Update: On June 21, 2021, Santa Clara County updated its Order of the Health Officer to lessen the burden on employers regarding obtaining certifications of vaccination status. Employers must now require all personnel to complete the form twice 14 days apart. For example, if you initially required the form to be completed by June 1, 2021, and then you required the form to be completed again by June 15, you have completed the required scheduled requisites. Santa Clara County still “urges” employers to continue encouraging vaccination, and to “regularly” request updated vaccination status from unvaccinated employees. However, there is no required schedule for this recommended follow-up.
On May 18, 2021, Santa Clara County updated its Order of the Health Officer and FAQs to require, effective June 1, 2021, that employers determine the vaccination status of all “personnel.” One simple way for businesses to comply with the order is by following the three-step guide below.
First, employers should familiarize themselves with the broad definition of “personnel.” Personnel means employees; contractors and sub-contractors (such as those who sell goods or perform services onsite or who deliver goods for the business); independent contractors (such as “gig workers” who perform work via the business’s application or other online interface); vendors who are permitted to sell goods onsite; volunteers; and other individuals who regularly provide services onsite at the request of the business.
Second, employers should review the county’s Certification of Vaccination Status Form. Employers must require all personnel to complete the form every 14 days beginning no later than June 1, 2021, until personnel are fully vaccinated. For example, if you initially require the form to be completed by June 1, 2021, you will then need to require it to be completed again by June 15, June 29, July 13, etc. Once a person marks “I am fully vaccinated” on the form, they should no longer be sent the form. If a person marks, “I have not been vaccinated” or “I decline to answer whether I have been vaccinated”, that person should be provided an information sheet and be sent the form again. The form may be completed in hard copy, via email, or through an electronic application. All forms should be marked confidential and maintained in the same manner as other medical records, and information within these forms should only be released on a need-to-know basis.
Third, employers must remain cognizant of individual barriers to obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination. A person may have allergies to the ingredients in the vaccination, an autoimmune disease, a mental illness that prevents them from being vaccinated, or be in need of a religious accommodation. All of these concerns should be taken seriously, and any particular issue should be immediately discussed with an attorney. Even in the event an individual has a valid reason for not obtaining the vaccine, employers must still treat that person as unvaccinated under the Santa Clara County order.
Santa Clara County is the first locality to put the onus on employers to keep track of individuals’ vaccination status, and it is possible that other counties will follow suit. As requirements continue to tighten, many employers have turned to apps, such as Origami Risk, to keep track of individuals’ vaccination status. If you have any questions regarding your obligations to obtain individuals’ vaccination status, the best method for your business to keep track of individuals’ vaccination status, your potential obligations under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), or the interplay between local, county, state, and federal orders, please contact your Payne & Fears attorney.