WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Why are businesses and governmental entities required to ask about and record the vaccination status of their workers? Vaccines are the most effective way to reduce transmission of COVID-19, and to prevent people from getting sick or dying from COVID-19. The rules that businesses and governmental entities have to follow to protect workers from COVID-19 are different depending on whether a worker is vaccinated or not. Businesses and governmental entities need to know the vaccination status of their workers so they can follow the rules, and so they can keep their workers, customers, and the community safe.
What should businesses and governmental entities do to determine vaccination status of their workers? Businesses and governmental entities must determine whether each of their employees (and any contractors or volunteers working in their facilities) is fully vaccinated or not. Businesses and governmental entities must have a record for each staff member reflecting that person’s vaccination status. The record may document a business’s or governmental entity’s review of documentation establishing vaccination status (e.g., the employee’s vaccine card), or the employee’s completed Certification of Vaccination Status. A template Certification of Vaccination Status is available here.
I have a worker who won’t tell me whether they are vaccinated? What do I do? You must document that the worker declined to disclose his or her vaccination status, assume that they are not fully vaccinated, and follow all the rules that apply to workers who are not fully vaccinated.
What is the deadline for determining the vaccination status of my workers? You must request and document the vaccination status of all personnel no later than June 1, 2021. For workers who were not fully vaccinated or declined to disclose their vaccination status, you are required to request updated vaccination status every 14 days thereafter (e.g., June 15, June 29, July 13, etc.). Do businesses have to keep records of who is vaccinated and who is not? Yes. Businesses and governmental entities must maintain records of who is vaccinated and who is not until the provision of the Order requiring ascertainment of vaccination status is no longer effective. Businesses and governmental entities must follow applicable rules related to the confidentiality of these records. What happens if I don’t ask about the vaccination status of my workers? Because businesses and governmental entities have to follow different rules for vaccinated as opposed to unvaccinated employees, all businesses must determine the vaccination status of their employees. Any business that fails to ask about and record the vaccination status of its workers is subject to enforcement, and may be required to pay fines of up to $5,000 per violation per day. Do I have to ask about and record the vaccination status of my workers if they are working remotely? You are required to determine the vaccination status of all workers who perform any work at a facility or worksite in the county. You are also strongly encouraged, but not required by the Order, to determine vaccination status for all other personnel. Does HIPAA apply when an employer asks an employee for their vaccination status? No. HIPAA applies to certain entities, such as healthcare providers and health plans, and what protected health information they can share about their patients or members under what circumstances. HIPAA does not govern what information employers may request from their employees.
What confidentiality rules do employers need to follow when they collect and store information regarding employee vaccination status? Generally, employers must treat this information the same way they treat other similar private information they receive from their employees, including, for example medical conditions for which they may request time off, etc.
Do workers have to disclose their vaccination status to their employer? Under the Health Order, employers must ask their employees for their vaccination status, but employees may decline to provide that information. The sample Certification Form [link] specifically includes that option for employees. If an employee declines to provide their vaccination status, the employer should assume the employee may be unvaccinated and follow State and local requirements for unvaccinated employees. Do employers have to provide information regarding their employees’ vaccination status to the County Public Health Department? No, employers do not provide this information to the County. Instead, they are required to collect it and have it available to demonstrate their compliance with this requirement.
Under what circumstances would an employer have to share employee vaccination information? Generally, employee vaccination information is treated as confidential, but can be shared in certain instances. For example, an employer may be asked to demonstrate compliance with the requirement related to employee vaccination status if the County receives information suggesting that the employer has not complied. The State Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) may also request documentation from an employer demonstrating that they have complied with all of the requirements specific to employees who are vaccinated versus unvaccinated, and knowing which employees are vaccinated will allow employers to comply with those requirements.