Santa Clara County Requires Employers to Check Employee Immunization Status, Imposes Other Requirements to Prepare for Employee Return to Workplace | Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati
On May 18, 2021, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department released a new order focused on security measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance went into effect on May 19, 2021, when the county entered the yellow tier of the state’s action plan for a safer economy. It contains important changes for businesses operating in Santa Clara County, both to encourage vaccination and to prepare employers to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, in line with additional changes expected as part of the California “reopens” on June 15, 2021.
- Employers should check the immunization status of all staff. Perhaps the most significant change requires employers to ask all employees, contractors, interns, volunteers and even construction workers who work on-site if they have been vaccinated by June 1, 2021.
- Employers must keep a register reflecting the immunization status of each person. This record may simply document the employer’s review of the employee’s vaccination card or other documents, or “Certification of vaccination status” form provided by Santa Clara County. Employers should treat this information confidentially and keep it until the order requirements are no longer in effect.
- Employees can refuse to provide their immunization status. These employees will be presumed unvaccinated.
- Employers should ask workers who are not vaccinated or who refuse to disclose their immunization status for an updated immunization status every 14 days after June 1 (e.g., June 15, June 29, July 13, etc. ) and document their status.
- While employers are not required to determine the immunization status of their workers who work at a Santa Clara County job site, they are strongly encouraged to determine the immunization status of all other staff, including those who work remotely. .
- Businesses that fail to comply with these requirements are subject to law enforcement and may be required to pay fines of up to $ 5,000 per violation per day.
- Wilson Sonsini and its tech affiliate, SixFifty, have created an automated return-to-work toolkit to help companies safely return their employees to the workplace amid COVID-19. As part of its offering, SixFifty has developed a ticketing tool designed to help employers collect and track the immunization status of their employees. Please contact Wilson Sonsini for more information.
- Employers should require all staff to immediately alert the employer of certain COVID-19 exposure events. All personnel must immediately notify the employer if they test positive for COVID-19 and were present at the workplace either (1) within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms or within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. onset of symptoms if they were symptomatic, or (2) within 48 hours of the date they were tested or within 10 days of the date they were tested if they were asymptomatic. Businesses Are Required to Report Any Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County Within 24 hours.
- Social distancing protocols are no longer necessary. Due to a significant deviation from last year’s Santa Clara County COVID-19 orders, businesses are no longer required to submit social distancing protocols to the county’s public health department.
- Capacity limits are no longer mandatory. The ordinance eliminated county-specific rules for capacity in buildings and ordered businesses to follow state guidelines. Led by California, although there is no capacity limitation for office buildings, employers must still implement measures to physically separate workers and customers by at least six feet and limit the number of employees in the office at a time.
The order also contains a Mandatory directive for unvaccinated personnel, which contains both mandatory requirements and strong recommendations for such personnel. the mandatory requirements provide that:
- all employers must provide information on how to get vaccinated to all staff who are not fully vaccinated, whether working on site or remotely; and
- all non-fully vaccinated staff who are in “close contact” with a confirmed case, or who have been confirmed to have COVID-19, should be excluded from the workplace for the duration of all quarantine periods and / or isolation applicable in accordance with the advice of the health worker.
Order “highly recommend” that companies:
- prohibit all personnel not fully immunized from engaging in work-related travel, especially traveling more than 150 miles from Santa Clara County; and
- Require all staff not fully vaccinated to obtain weekly PCR tests for COVID-19, or daily antigen tests with COVID PCR confirmation of any positive results.
In addition, the ordinance requires that all persons continue to follow the Mandatory directive on the use of face masks, which confirms that all employees, regardless of their immunization status, must wear a face mask in the workplace. While the CDC and the Department of Health have relaxed mask restrictions for those vaccinated in social settings, current Cal / OSHA regulations still require all California employees to wear masks when working at home. indoors, subject to the exceptions California employers are now familiar with (for example, masks are not necessary for someone who is alone in a closed office or while someone is eating and is socially distant).
Employers should immediately put in place a system to check the immunization status of their staff. Employers should also continue to monitor federal, state, and local guidelines regarding return-to-work requirements, especially the different rules that should apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated workers.