What if Employees are Refusing to Wear Masks in the Workplace?
Cal/OSHA sets forth health and safety guidelines and recommendations for employers in California, and the agency continually updates its mask guidance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important for employers to stay on top of this guidance and implement policies at work to keep employees safe.
But what happens if employees refuse to comply with your mask policies? What steps should you take as an employer? Discuss your specific situation with an experienced Encino employment lawyer to ensure your company is properly protecting its employees.
Current Mask Guidance from Cal/OSHA
The following are some policies that your company should adopt to be in compliance with Cal/OSHA standards:
- Employers must track and document the vaccination status of employees.
- Masks should be provided for all unvaccinated employees in indoor settings or vehicles with others.
- Masks are not required by recommended for fully-vaccinated employees in indoor settings.
- During outbreaks, all employees should wear masks in both indoor and outdoor settings when they cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet.
These policies seem fairly straightforward, and some employers have implemented their own stricter policies that simply require masks for all employees.
Dealing with Employees Who Refuse to Mask
Some employees qualify for a legitimate exemption from mask-wearing as a reasonable accommodation. If an employee claims they cannot wear a mask due to a health condition, you can request documentation of their condition. You should also discuss possible alternatives to masks for the employee while they are at work.
If there is no health-related reason, inquire whether there are other legal concerns. Do they not want to wear the mask for religious reasons? Is the mask interfering with their ability to safely perform their jobs?
If the answer to all of these questions is no, explain to the employee the purpose of your mask policies and requirements. If the employee continues to refuse, inform them that your company has the right to require masks, just like you could require any other safety or health precautions.
Have clear policies that set out possible disciplinary action if an employee continues to abide by masking policies. Employers can lawfully terminate employees for not wearing a mask or refusing to engage in other virus-control measures, such as social distancing, hand washing, and more.
If you have any questions or concerns about specific employees or other problems in your workforce, you should contact an Encino employment lawyer directly.
Speak with an Encino Employment Attorney Today
At the law firm of Kaufman McAndrew LLP, we assist all types of employers in the Encino area with a variety of employment law matters. We can help you determine the best steps to take with a problem employee who refuses to wear a mask. If it comes time to terminate such an employee, we can help do so properly to avoid legal action whenever possible. Contact us for more information about what to do in your workplace situation.