On December 15, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) voted to adopt the COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations (the Non-Emergency Regulation). Once the Non-Emergency Regulation takes effect, the regulations will remain in effect for two years, except for the recordkeeping subsections, which will apply for three years. As the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) makes clear, “[t]hese regulations include some of the same requirements found in the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), as well as new provisions aimed at making it easier for employers to provide consistent protections to workers and allow for flexibility if changes are made to guidance in the future from the California Department of Public Health.” Cal/OSHA has already posted a fact sheet regarding the Non-Emergency Regulation.

On April 21, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board approved the third readoption of the Emergency Temporary Standards (the Standard). The current Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), which took effect January 14, 2022, is set to expire May 6, 2022. The newly approved Standard will likely take effect May 6 and will likely be in effect until the end of this calendar year. Although many features of the prior version remain intact, the Standard includes several notable changes that may require employers to update their policies and practices, including the written COVID-19 Prevention Program. We note a number of these differences below. As with prior versions, Cal/OSHA will likely update their Frequently Asked Questions to address the changes.

  1. Fully Vaccinated. The Standard deletes the definition of “fully vaccinated” and does not replace it with a new one. Thus, unlike the current ETS, the Standard now requires employers to make COVID-19 testing available to employees with COVID-19 symptoms regardless of vaccination status.
  2. Self-Administered and Self-Read COVID-19 Tests. Under the Standard, an employee may satisfy return-to-work criteria by taking a COVID-19 test that is both self-administered and self-read “only if” another mechanism for independent verification of the results is available such as a time stamped photograph of the results.
  3. Face Coverings. Importantly, the Standard removes the requirement that employers must provide face coverings to those who are not fully vaccinated and ensure face coverings are worn indoors or in vehicles. However, employers must provide face coverings and ensure they are worn when the California Department of Health (CDPH) requires. The Standard also removes from the definition of “face coverings” the requirement that light cannot pass through them when held up to a light source.
  1. Return-to-Work Criteria. The Standard sets forth revised return-to-work criteria. Under the Standard, regardless of vaccination status or previous infection, employees who do not develop COVID-19 symptoms or whose symptoms are resolving should not return to work until:
    • Five days have passed since COVID-19 symptom onset, or if there were no symptoms, the date of the first positive test;
    • 24 hours have passed since the last fever of 100.4 degrees or higher without using fever-reducing medication; and
    • A negative COVID-19 test collected on the fifth day or later is obtained (or if an employee cannot test or the employer does not require a test, 10 days have passed from the date of symptom onset, or if no symptoms develop, the date of the first positive COVID-19 test).

As reported here, earlier this month California Governor Newsom signed into law SB 114, which reinstates COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for covered employees in California. The state’s Labor Commissioner recently issued 37 frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing California Labor Code Section 248.6 in more detail, which includes guidance to help employers comply

On December 15, 2021, California reinstated a mandatory indoor masking requirement to correspond with the rise in Omicron cases. However, as COVID-19 cases in California have steadily decreased, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued updated guidance to take effect February 16, 2022, which loosens the mask requirements for vaccinated individuals. According to

Near the end of 2021, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued the Emergency Temporary Standard (the ETS), which required employers with 100 or more employees to put in place a mandatory vaccination policy or require weekly COVID-19 testing and mask wearing by unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees. On November 5, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed enforcement and application of the vaccine mandate; this stay was dissolved by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 17, 2021. See the discussion of these rulings here and here. Thereafter, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review the issue.

On January 6, 2022, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) released updated FAQs clarifying that the isolation and quarantine recommendations from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) (see post here) replace the exclusion periods and return-to-work criteria in the revised Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) approved by the OSHA Board on December 16, 2021. A link to guidance regarding the revised ETS, which takes effect on January 14, is available here.

As the COVID-19 landscape evolves and the Omicron variant pervades, state and local governments and health authorities have modified their recommendations, guidance, and regulations in an effort to manage the pandemic.

For example, on December 30, 2021, following the CDC’s December 27, 2021, changes to its quarantine and isolation recommendations, the California Department of Public

The CDC recently updated its guidelines on, among other things, quarantine and isolation periods and recommendations regarding booster shots. Below is a high-level summary of some of these changes.

At the end of December 2021, the CDC updated its guidance regarding quarantine and isolation. A media statement from the CDC regarding its updates can be found here. Some of the biggest changes from the December recommendations involved the following:

  • Reducing isolation for those with COVID-19 to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.
  • Revising quarantine periods, including:
    • For unvaccinated individuals, individuals who completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna over five months ago and are not boosted, or individuals who completed J&J over two months ago and are not boosted, quarantine five days followed by “strict mask use” for five days.
    • If quarantine is “not feasible,” wear a “well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.”
    • Individuals who have received booster shots do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.

By Jill L. Ripke, Brittany Sachs and Lauren Kulpa

We have updated and added to our frequently asked questions (FAQs) for U.S. employers relating to COVID-19 and developments in employment law. The additional FAQs focus on transitioning employees who have been working remotely back to a physical office location. These new Q&As address topics