As COVID-19 continues to linger in California, it remains an ongoing concern for state lawmakers. In response to this threat, California continues to provide updated regulations as it pertains to COVID in the workplace. This article will cover the recent updates adopted by the state.
Non-emergency COVID-19 prevention regulations
Up until present, the state has been operating under emergency temporary standards as it pertains to COVID-19 prevention regulations. On Dec. 15, 2022, non-emergency COVID-19 prevention regulations were adopted. Said regulations will take effect once they are approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which was set to take place in January 2023. However, the OAL has 30 working days to complete its review, so the final adoption of these regulations remains pending.
The COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards (ETS) remain in effect up until the new regulations are officially approved by the OAL. The non-emergency standards are set to remain in effect for two years from the date of approval by the OAL.
While the new regulations include many of the requirements found in the previously issued emergency temporary standards, there are also some key changes that are directed both at making it easier for employers to abide by the protections required and to allow more flexibility for employers as further potential changes are implemented as needed from the California Department of Public Health.
Changes to the COVID-19 prevention regulations:
The COVID-19 prevention regulations do not require employers to pay employees while they are excluded from work. Instead, the regulations require employers to provide employees with information regarding COVID-19-related benefits they may be entitled to under federal, state or local laws; their employer’s leave policies; or leave guaranteed by contract.
Changes to related definitions
Requirements from the emergency temporary standards that remain a part of the COVID-19 prevention regulations:
The universal indoor masking requirement that was allowed to expire as of Feb. 15, 2022, remains expired.
On March 1, 2022, the requirement for unvaccinated persons to mask in indoor public settings and businesses was replaced by a strong recommendation that all people, regardless of vaccine status, mask in indoor public settings and businesses. Additionally, after March 11, 2022, the universal masking requirement for K-12 and child care settings terminated.
On April 20, 2022, the universal masking requirement on public transit and in transit hubs was replaced by strong recommendations that people continue to mask while on public transit and indoors in transit hubs.
Crystal Tappin is an associate attorney in the Oakland office of Laughlin, Falbo, Levy & Moresi, a workers' compensation defense firm.
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