Alert: Santa Clara County Requires Employers to Determine Workers’ Vaccination Status By Jun 1, 2021 | Cooley LLP
Santa Clara County Public Health Department landing page links to the new order, as well as a summary, FAQs, and other resources.
The new order recognizes that the public health threat from COVID-19 is decreasing in Santa Clara County, but says COVID-19 continues to pose a risk, especially for residents who are not fully vaccinated. The order says vaccines are the most effective method to prevent transmission of COVID-19, as well as cases and deaths, and part of the main intention of the order is to increase rates vaccination.
The following is a summary of the key parts of the new ordinance for Santa Clara County employers.
Requirements for companies
Article 9 of the new decree contains specific requirements applicable to all companies and government entities:
Companies should determine the immunization status of employees, on-site contractors and volunteers. Companies should check the immunization status of all staff, defined to include employees, contractors, vendors, and others who regularly provide on-site services. The county has clarified its FAQ page that companies should determine the immunization status of all on-site workers at an employer’s facilities in Santa Clara County and are strongly encouraged, but not required, to verify the immunization status of staff working remotely.
Companies must complete their initial assessment of immunization status no later than by June 1, 2021 at the latest, and must subsequently obtain an updated vaccination status every 14 days for all personnel who have not been fully immunized. The county provided a self-certification form employers can use to perform these assessments.
The FAQ specifies that employers should treat immunization status like other private medical information received from employees, and that employees can choose to decline to provide immunization status. Companies should assume that those who refuse to provide their immunization status are not vaccinated (and therefore must continue to obtain the updated immunization status of these people every 14 days).
The new decree has a record keeping requirement, and the FAQ specifies that this means companies must have a record for each staff member reflecting that person’s immunization status. The record may include the self-certification form linked above or any other document establishing immunization status, such as the employee’s CDC vaccine card.
In the FAQ, the county justifies this assessment requirement by the fact that some workplace rules differ depending on a worker’s vaccination status and that companies need to know the vaccination status of workers in order to be able to follow the rules and ensure the safety of their workers, customers and community. The FAQ also states that any company that does not ask questions and record the immunization status of its workers is subject to law enforcement and may be required to pay fines of up to $ 5,000 per violation. and per day.
Companies must comply with the mandatory health officer directive for unvaccinated personnel. This new directive, also released on May 18, imposes demands and “strong recommendations” on companies for any staff who are not fully vaccinated.
A new requirement is that companies must provide all unvaccinated personnel, whether you work on site or remotely, with information on how to get vaccinated. Businesses can use it example information sheet to meet this requirement.
The directive also strengthens pre-existing requirements, such as the obligation for unvaccinated on-site workers to wear face masks and follow applicable directives regarding the exclusion of such personnel from the workplace if they are in “close contact” with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or if they are confirmed to be a carrier of COVID-19.
The directive also contains two strong recommendations from the Santa Clara County health official:
- Businesses are encouraged, but not obligated, to ban unvaccinated staff from all work-related travel, especially more than 150 miles from the county.
- Companies are encouraged, but not obligated, to require all unvaccinated staff to obtain weekly PCR tests for COVID-19, or daily antigen tests with COVID PCR confirmation of any positive results.
Businesses should continue to require facial blankets indoors (including for fully vaccinated people). Also on May 18, Santa Clara County released a Mandatory directive on the use of face masks requiring individuals, businesses and government entities to follow the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Tips for using face coverings, published May 3.
Under the current leadership of the CRPD (which may change), face covers continue to be required, regardless of immunization status, for any indoor environment outside a person’s home, including public transport. The Santa Clara County FAQ states that this includes the workplace. The only relevant exemptions for an office workplace are people working alone in a closed office or room or eating or drinking while maintaining social distancing, or people who are exempt from wearing headwear due to a problem. health.
- Businesses must continue to report cases of COVID-19. The new ordinance maintains the requirement that all staff immediately alert the company if they test positive for COVID-19 and were present in the workplace within 48 hours before or 10 days after the onset of symptoms or, for asymptomatic people, within 48 hours before or 10 days after the date they were tested. If a company learns that one of its employees has tested positive and was in the workplace within that time, it should report the positive case to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Within 24 hours and comply with all case investigations and county-led contact tracing measures. Additional step-by-step advice is provided to businesses on the county website.
The new decree also encourages companies to consider moving their operations and activities outside.
The new decree lifts some previous restrictions, in recognition of the widespread vaccination and the decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community:
- It is no longer necessary to maximize teleworking. In previous versions of Santa Clara County’s health ordinances, businesses allowed to reopen were still required to maximize the number of people working remotely. This requirement was lifted in the ordinance of May 18.
- Social distancing protocols are no longer necessary. In previous versions of Santa Clara County Health Orders, businesses allowed to reopen were required to submit a social distancing protocol, signed under penalty of perjury, to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. This requirement has been lifted, but employers are reminded to continue to adhere to all state rules, including the Cal / OSHA Temporary Emergency Standards, which were summarized in a previous Cooley alert and currently require social distancing, regardless of vaccination status.
- Local capacity limitations are lifted. Santa Clara County previously issued a local mandatory capacity limitation directive, which is no longer effective. Employers are reminded to consult the state councils, which recommends limiting the number of workers in the office at any one time to account for social distancing.
Recommended steps for employers
Employers in Santa Clara County should complete their initial assessment of immunization status by June 1 and be prepared to perform follow-up assessments every 14 days thereafter. Employers should also carefully review the other aspects of the new decree and mandatory guidelines summarized above and incorporate any relevant changes into their policies and procedures.
In addition, employers should review and comply with all state rules and guidelines, including Cal / OSHA Temporary Emergency Standards and all CDPH guidelines, as well as federal guidelines from the CDC and the OSHA. While we expect the demands of various levels of government to change in the weeks and months to come, it is important to remember that employers must comply with the most restrictive guidelines.