COVID expectations for employers could be on the horizon after recent action by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). Last month, Cal/OSHA issued a proposal to replace the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETA) related to COVID-19. The ETS initially implemented in November 2020 and readopted six months later, is set to expire on January 14, 2022. While still early in the process, employers will want to pay attention to what is being proposed as a permanent standard.
“Instead of having a separate program, employers will be asked to incorporate COVID-19 throughout their Injury and Prevention Program…There will also be a couple of other changes to testing. There was no provision for exclusion pay, that was a big one,” said Angelina Ceja, Vice President and Chief Education Officer for AgSafe. “They removed handwashing, cleaning, and disinfection requirements and made some changes for housing and transportation as well.”
If adopted, a permanent standard would be subject to renewal or expiration after two years. Ceja explained that Cal/OSHA is likely to extend the current ETS as the development of a permanent standard moves forward. The proposed language that was put forth by Cal/OSHA is likely to change prior to its full adoption. “It’s an April of 2022 timeframe that we’re looking at for this,” said Ceja.
Other COVID expectations for employers to keep in mind is the expiration of the Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. The state had required employers with 26 or more employees to provide workers with 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons. That requirement is no longer in place. “That leaves benefit information, whatever there might be in terms of sick leave or other paid leave through the employer to then let the employee know if they’re excluded from the workplace because of COVID,” Ceja noted.