Skip to Content

New Safety COVID-19 Guidelines for Employees & Employers in California


Although California celebrated its grand reopening on June 15 after going under a COVID-19 lockdown more than a year ago, employers and employees aren’t off the hook as far as safety regulations and guidelines are concerned.

On June 17, Cal/OSHA approved revisions to the state’s Emergency Temporary Standards that rolled back some requirements without eliminating them entirely, while others remained squarely in place.

For example, employers are still required to maintain a written COVID-19 prevention plan, provide employees with COVID-19 training, provide pay continuation for employees excluded from work because of COVID-19 (some exceptions apply), as well as maintain screening and cleaning protocols.

New Safety COVID-19 Guidelines for Employees & Employers in California

Despite what remains in place, a considerable number of restrictions and requirements have been eased. Check out the rundown below to see the current requirements.

Face Coverings

Fully vaccinated employees are no longer required to wear face coverings at work, but can choose to do so (employers must provide a mask in this case). Employees who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear face coverings indoors or in vehicles.

Employers are required to provide respirators like the N95 mask upon request for voluntary use to all employees who aren’t fully vaccinated or work indoors or in vehicles with more than one person. The vaccination status of others in the office or vehicle is irrelevant to compliance with such requests.

Social/Physical Distancing

Fully vaccinated employees and those who get tested for COVID-19 at least once a week no longer need to follow social/physical distancing guidelines. Employees who aren’t fully vaccinated only need to practice social/physical distancing indoors and when they aren’t wearing a face covering.

Except during a COVID-19 outbreak (three or more cases in a group of employees within a 14-day period) or a major outbreak (20 or more cases among a group of employees within a 30-day period), there are no longer physical distancing or barrier requirements regardless of employee vaccination status.

COVID-19 Testing

Employers are required to offer free COVID-19 testing during paid work hours to unvaccinated employees with COVID-19 symptoms or who had close contact with COVID-19 at work; vaccinated employees who are symptomatic and had close contact with COVID-19 at work; all employees if a major outbreak occurs at work.

Should a COVID-19 outbreak occur, unvaccinated employees exposed to the virus must immediately be tested and then tested again after one week. After that, employees must make COVID-19 testing available once per week for all exposed employees remaining and until the outbreak ends. Testing is not required for fully vaccinated employees.

Employees who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, or those who have recovered from COVID-19 within the last 90 days, are not subject to the required quarantine period after coming into close contact with the virus.

Providing Proof of Vaccination Status

Employers who wish to ease restrictions must have documentation from fully vaccinated employees of their vaccination status. If an employer prefers, all employees may be treated as if they are unvaccinated in place of collecting vaccination information.

Here’s how Cal/OSHA outlined as acceptable ways for employers to document employees’ vaccination statuses:

  • Employees show their vaccination card, a photo of their card, or a healthcare document showing the vaccination status.
  • Employers maintain a record of employees who presented proof but not the vaccine record itself.
  • Employees self-attest to their vaccination status and employers maintain a record.

Employers are not required by the state to ask about their employees’ vaccination status. Should it be unknown in any given case, employers are to treat the employee as if they’re unvaccinated.