Cal/OSHA Changes Postponed… AGAIN New Rules for Fully Vaccinated Employees On Hold
On Thursday, June 3, Cal/OSHA approved new guidelines for physical distancing and face coverings in the workplace for vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. The updated standards were set to be effective June 15, and many companies started making plans for implementation.
However, on June 9, the Board voted to withdraw the June 3 standards. This move appears to be in response to a State Health Officer’s letter pointing out that the rules conflict with California’s anticipated June 15 end to masking and distancing requirements in almost all situations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will consider new revisions to the COVID-19 regulations as soon as June 17. In the meantime, the masking and physical distancing protocols adopted in November 2020 will continue to be in effect.
What Am I Supposed to Do Now?
In short, hang in there and try to be patient. We do not know how Cal/OSHA will change its proposed ETS rules, but for now California employers should continue the face covering and physical distancing policies we’ve all come to know and love.
In anticipation of relaxed protocols for fully vaccinated employees, you can encourage staffers to get the vaccine. Remind them of the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave or state Supplemental Paid Sick Leave programs that will provide paid time off for vaccination appointments and recovery from related symptoms/side effects. (Yes, you may ask for a copy of the vaccination card as documentation of these appointments.)
We also suggest developing plans for how you might accommodate an employee who cannot receive the vaccine due to a medical condition or a religious belief, and how you will respond to employees who remain unvaccinated for reasons not protected by law. The postponement of Cal/OSHA changes may allow for a more intentional, better-communicated response to these issues.
(If the paragraphs above sound familiar, it’s because this is exactly what we said the last time Cal/OSHA had an abrupt withdrawal/revision of its regulations. Rest assured, Sierra HR is watching closely for new developments and we will let clients know as soon as there is updated information.)