Monday, June 21st, 2021
Cal-OSHA has spoken!

This week marks a milestone in California’s emergence from the pandemic: vaccinated employees in most workplaces can now be mask-less! This has left employers wondering if we’re back to normal or there are still more restrictions. Let’s break it down:

For many office workers, wearing a mask for eight hours per day was uncomfortable enough that they chose to work from home instead. But now, those who are ready to come back into the office may do so without a mask, as long as they are fully vaccinated.

Employers are still required to provide masks for those who are not vaccinated, and unvaccinated employees may be mask-less only when alone in a room, or eating/drinking. Employers are also responsible for making sure that unvaccinated employees are in fact wearing their masks in public areas of the office. 

Cal-OSHA’s ruling also did away with required social distancing and the plastic barriers often seen between the public and cashiers. In addition, employers must document the vaccination status of employees who are not wearing masks, but they do NOT have to retain copies of the vaccination cards. Employers are permitted to take employees at their word when it comes to reporting vaccination status. 

All Californians must still wear a mask, whether vaccinated or not, in certain situations including:

  • On public transportation
  • Indoors at K-12 schools
  • Child-care facilities/camps
  • Shelters, cooling centers, and emergency shelters
  • Correctional and detention centers
  • Health care facilities 
  • Long term care facilities

If you are in a county such as Santa Clara that mandates employer tracking of vaccinations, be sure to continue doing so. Cal-OSHA’s ruling does not change this local mandate. 

This is a great step toward returning to “normal” workplaces. Be sure to communicate your expectations regarding masks and other COVID precautions to your employees. It’s important they have clear guidelines and an understanding of what is or is not acceptable in your workplace, especially since so many of these guidelines have changed so much over the past 14 months.