By CBSLA Staff

WOODLAND HILLS (CBSLA) – Cal-OSHA’S Thursday ruling that workers no longer have to wear face coverings if all employees are vaccinated, guidelines that differ from federal recommendations, has sparked some confusion for employers.

The vote to ease restrictions on face-coverings was supposed to make it easier for people to return to the workplace, but Cal-OSHA’s latest recommendations are stricter than those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggest vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or social distance in almost all situations.

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“This latest ruling is going to be confusing because we had the Center for Disease Control already taking a more liberal position that if you are vaccinated, you can be mask-free pretty much everywhere. So, now, the state is taking a position that is a little more conservative,” Attorney Harry Nelson, who has been working with employers to navigate the new workplace safety guidelines, told CBSLA’s Tina Patel.

Nelson also said that employers are legally able to ask employees about their vaccination status.

“We’ve actually gotten clear guidance from the federal government, from the EEOC, that COVID, whether you’ve been tested, whether you’ve been vaccinated is not a medical question, is not medical information and it’s not disability information. You’re allowed to ask that question.”

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What to do if an employee doesn’t want to get vaccinated is still a sensitive question. There are those in the workforce who may be ambivalent or nervous about taking the vaccine and some employers worry about creating a negative environment in the workplace.

Governor Gavin Newsom’s office put a statement out Thursday evening, saying, “We appreciate the board’s action to maintain worker safety and are hopeful the board will further revise its guidance to reflect the latest science while continuing to protect workers and balancing realistic and enforceable requirements for employers.”

Cal-OSHA’s latest ruling goes into effect June 15, but it’s possible that there will be further revisions.

 

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