Are Masks Still Required in the Workplace?
California policy on masks due to the risks of COVID-19 has changed significantly in recent months. In early June, the state still had requirements in place for all employees - vaccinated or not - to keep wearing masks when working indoors or outdoors in close proximity to others. However, since then, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has updated its guidelines to be consistent with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Employers should stay on top of all mask policies in the state and never hesitate to contact an employment lawyer should you have questions about compliance or face complaints from employees.
Current Guidelines for Masks at Work in California
The following is the guidance from Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Public Health regarding masks in workplaces:
- No one is required to wear masks outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.
- Employers should keep track of the vaccination status of employees, and vaccinated employees do not need to wear masks during indoor or outdoor work.
- Employers must provide NIOSH-certified masks to unvaccinated employees to wear indoors or when traveling in vehicles with others.
- Unvaccinated employees do not need to wear masks when they are alone indoors or in a vehicle, when eating or drinking, or when wearing a mask is hazardous or infeasible for certain job duties.
The following workplaces still require masks for all employees, no matter what their vaccination status is:
- K-12 schools
- Healthcare facilities
- Long-term care facilities
- Public transportation
- Correctional and detention facilities
Employers in these lines of work must ensure that employees follow the mask mandates, even if they are vaccinated.
Documenting Vaccination Status
It can complicate matters that employers are expected to know the vaccination status of all employees, though companies should document this information as best as possible. Employers also need to maintain the confidentiality of these records since they involve employee health information.
Employers need to come up with their own methods of tracking vaccination statuses of employees, and some options might be:
- Keeping copies of vaccine cards or healthcare records showing vaccines in employment files
- Allowing employees to show other proof of vaccination status instead of the vaccine card
- Taking the word of employees regarding their vaccination status
If an employee does not want to disclose their vaccination status, the employer cannot force them and should treat the employee as unvaccinated. Further, employers have the authority to continue to require masks for everyone instead of trying to keep track of vaccination statuses.
Consult with Encino Employment Attorneys Today
Employers should continue to have policies in place regarding COVID-19 prevention and what to do in the event of an outbreak. All employees should have proper notification of all policy changes, as well. At Kaufman McAndrew LLP, our Encino employment lawyers assist companies with compliance and conflict resolution with employees. Contact us online or call 818-788-5767 to discuss any concerns that you may have regarding employment issues.