On May 18, 2021, Santa Clara County, California, issued a health order that both relieves employers of some earlier COVID-19–related requirements and imposes new obligations on employers, particularly with respect to employees’ vaccination status. Santa Clara County also issued the “Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings” and the “Mandatory Directive For Unvaccinated Personnel.” The health order and mandatory directives take effect on May 19, 2021.
The health order’s and directives’ new employer obligations include the following:
Determine the vaccination status of employees
All employers are required to obtain and record the vaccination status of all employees by June 1, 2021. The records may consist of an employee’s vaccination card or self-certification of full vaccination. Employers must ask unvaccinated employees about their status every 14 days. Employees who decline to respond “must … be treated as unvaccinated.”
Positive employees must inform their employers
Each employer must instruct employees to report their positive status to the employer if they worked on-site during the infectious period.
Report positive cases to the county public health department
Within 24 hours of learning of a positive case on-site, an employer must report the information to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
Enforce mask rules for unvaccinated employees
Employers must enforce mask rules for all unvaccinated employees.
According to the Santa Clara Public Health Department’s frequently asked questions (FAQs) web page regarding the order and directives, employers are no longer required to maximize telework or “submit Social Distancing Protocols to the County Public Health Department.”
The FAQs also state that Santa Clara County has eliminated the local “Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations.”
Employer COVID-19–related mandates and guidances likely will change rapidly at the federal, state, and local levels. As the Santa Clara County health order emphasizes, employers must follow the strictest of the orders.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.