COVID-19 Update: Cal/OSHA Aligns Guidance for Isolation and Quarantine with CDPH

January 7, 2022 3:34 pm

COVID-19 Update:

Cal/OSHA Aligns Guidance for Isolation and Quarantine with CDPH

The number of executive agencies, at both the state and federal level, advising on or regulating individual behavior during this pandemic, and the frequency with which those communications are issued, continues to be extremely confusing for employers. Thankfully, today it gets slightly less overwhelming as Cal/OSHA has clarified employer expectations in light of both CDC and California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) guidance (issued December 30 and updated January 6).

Work Exclusion Requirements

We sent an update earlier this week after the CDPH’s initial guidance. That guidance has been modified slightly, and now the CDPH and Cal/OSHA seem to be on the same page. We review the Cal/OSHA and CDPH requirements below, but your local health department may have issued more strict guidance. (Please send us an e-mail if you would like a PDF document of the tables below.)


You may notice that the post-exposure exclusion requirements are virtually the same for vaccinated employees, with or without the booster dose. We’re not sure why the CDPH makes this distinction, but it may be in anticipation of future changes for either status.


Neither the CDPH nor Cal/OSHA directly address the situation of a symptomatic employee with no known COVID exposure. We recommend employers follow the guidance above for those who have tested positive, unless the employee takes a negative COVID-19 test or provides medical certification of a different illness (such as a sinus infection.) If the employee cannot or will not provide such documentation, he/she should be excluded from work for ten days from the start of symptoms.


Employees may be permitted to take rapid tests or at-home tests to satisfy the CDPH requirements. However, according to Cal/OSHA an over-the-counter test may not be both self-administered and self-read. This means the test must be observed by the employer or an authorized telehealth proctor. (If your employee is excluded from work pending a test result, you may observe the test through a video call/meeting.)


California Mask Mandate

A statewide mask mandate was originally set for December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022. On January 5, the CDPH extended this mask mandate until February 15, 2022.

Employers should take this mask mandate seriously. The Dept. of Industrial Relations (DIR) updated their FAQ page after the CDPH issued the original mask mandate on December 13, 2021. The DIR reminded employers that while Cal/OSHA no longer explicitly required face coverings generally, the regulation still required employers to “ensure [face coverings] are worn by employees when required by [CDPH] orders.” The DIR added, “The [CDPH mask mandate] is such an order.”

We recommend that employers follow the CDPH mask mandate, as this mandate can be enforced by Cal/OSHA.


Federal Vaccine Mandate

Just this morning, January 7, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments related to the federal OSHA vaccine mandate and deliberated about whether to implement an administrative stay before the (delayed) mandate goes into effect this coming Monday, January 10, 2022.


That said, the federal mandate doesn’t impact employers in California – at least, not directly. Because California has a state plan (Cal/OSHA), federal emergency action like this vaccine mandate simply triggers a state-level response. This means that California has 30 days to discuss what the vaccine mandate will look like in our state, and these discussions will be taking place at the same time as the Supreme Court weighs whether or not the original mandate is even constitutional.


For now, there is no action required of California employers regardless of whether the Supreme Court issues a stay before the January 10 implementation deadline. We will continue watch for Cal/OSHA’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision and alert clients of any announced state requirements.

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