April 28, 2022

Cal/OSHA-Approved Changes to ETS Will Take Effect May 6, 2022

Update 5/7/22: The third revised ETS went into effect as expected on May 6, 2022. The final language is available on the Cal/OSHA Website. On May 7, 2022, Cal/OSHA also updated and published a new set of Frequently Asked Questions on its website, which is an excellent starting point for questions pertaining to the ETS. Contact your Payne & Fears attorney with any questions.

A new, third revised version of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) has been approved by Cal/OSHA, and is expected to go into effect on May 6, 2022. This updated ETS will likely be in effect through Dec. 31, 2022. 

The language still needs to be reviewed, finalized, and filed with the Secretary of State by the Office of Administrative Law, but a redline of the proposed changes that Cal/OSHA has approved is available here. Much of the previous ETS (which took effect in January 2022, and we discussed here) will remain in effect. But the new version includes some key changes, including the following:

  • Employers will now have similar obligations toward employees who are fully vaccinated and employees who are not fully vaccinated with respect to testing and face coverings.  Employers must make COVID-19 testing available at no cost to all symptomatic employees during the employee’s paid time, regardless of the employee’s vaccination status. Employers also must make respirators available to all employees upon request, again regardless of the employee’s vaccination status.    
  • Employers are no longer required to ensure that employees who are not fully vaccinated wear a face covering while indoors or in vehicles. Instead, employers must provide face coverings and ensure employees are wearing them to the extent required by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance.  
  • The ETS no longer contains specific language regarding excluding “close contacts,” from work, but instead simply requires that employers follow CDPH’s guidance. (As of April 6, 2022, CDPH guidance indicates that close contacts do not need to quarantine/be excluded from work so long as they return a negative test three to five days after exposure.)
  • The ETS does not eliminate the requirement to provide exclusion pay to employees. 
  • Employers are no longer required to implement cleaning and disinfecting procedures.  

Employers should monitor Cal/OSHA’s website, which we anticipate will be updated as soon as the language has been finalized; and also Cal/OSHA’s FAQs website, which will be updated accordingly to address the changes. If you have any questions about compliance with the third revised ETS or any other COVID-19 guidance, please contact your Payne & Fears attorney.

Disclaimer: Laws, regulations, and guidance on matters related to COVID-19 change rapidly. Please contact your Payne & Fears attorney for current guidance.