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).

The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health has again issued a revised Public Health Order (Order) that significantly narrows Los Angeles County’s mask mandate, effective March 4, 2022. As explained in the Order, the updates are largely aimed at relaxing masking requirements to align with Executive Order N-5-22 and California Department of Public Health guidance issued February 28, 2022.

On February 28, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order (EO) that suspended Section 3205(c)(6)(A) of the current Cal/OSHA ETS. As a result, employers will no longer have to provide face coverings to employees who are not fully vaccinated, and such employees will no longer have to wear a mask indoors or in

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued a revised Health Order (“Order”) that makes important changes to Los Angeles County’s mask mandate, effective February 25, 2022. The major revisions are summarized below:

New Options Available to Establishments: Operators of “[a]ll indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and public and private businesses” may choose to allow fully vaccinated persons ages 5 and older to choose to be exempt from the indoor masking requirement under one of the two options below:

    • Option 1: Allow both fully vaccinated customers/visitors and fully vaccinated onsite workers to unmask while indoors. 
      • Requirements: verify proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a recent negative COVID-19 test result prior to entry for all persons, age 5 and older.
        • Tests: must have been taken within 2 days if PCR test or 1 day if antigen test. Onsite workers not fully vaccinated may submit a negative COVID‑19 viral test prior to work onsite every 3 days in compliance with Cal-OSHA protocols.
        • Definition of Full Vaccination: The Order tracks the current CDC definition of “fully vaccinated,” meaning two weeks or more after a second dose in a two-dose series (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (e.g., J&J).
      • Verification:
        • Tests: Operator must view (1) individual’s photo ID and (2) a printed document, email, or text message with results from a test provider or laboratory. (NOTE: at-home test results are only sufficient for employees, not the general public). See link for more details.
        • Vaccination: Operator must view (1) individual’s photo ID; and (2) vaccination card in print /electronic form or other evidence of vaccination.
      • NOTE: for any persons to be exempt from the indoor public setting masking requirement under this option, all persons who are not fully vaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination must (1) provide a negative COVID-19 viral test and (2) wear a well-fitting mask while indoors, except when actively eating or drinking.

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

On February 4, the tri-agencies (DOL, HHS and Treasury) issued new FAQs on the requirement for group health plans and issuers to cover over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements. We discussed the tri-agencies’ initial FAQs in our prior blog post.

The coverage requirement is still in place,

On February 9, 2022, California Governor Newsom signed SB 114 into law, reinstituting COVID-19 sick leave for 2022 (“2022 COVID-19 Sick Leave”). 2022 COVID-19 Sick Leave applies to employers with more than 25 employees and becomes effective February 19, 2022. Notably, the 2022 COVID-19 Sick Leave is retroactive to January 1, 2022. It will expire on September 30, 2022.

This week, the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury issued a new set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) confirming that group health plans and issuers must provide 100% coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests beginning January 15, 2022.

The FAQs are further interpretation of the coverage mandate required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Under this new guidance, 100% of the cost for COVID-19 tests purchased by an individual for diagnostic purposes on or after January 15, 2022, must be covered without cost-sharing or medical management requirements—even if the test was purchased OTC without a provider prescription or clinical assessment. This requirement continues for the duration of the national public health emergency.

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.