WHAT’S NEW IN 2022 SEWING UP PANDEMIC CONFLICTS « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California’s Newly Modified, Uniform Quarantine/Isolation Period

California has at last moved to eliminate conflicting agency directions on pandemic-related isolation and quarantine timeframes.

As covered in What’s New in 2022 Going the Distance – Cal/OSHA Updates Emergency Temporary Standards, on December 16, 2021, Cal/OSHA revised its COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), effective January 14, 2022 and applying to most California workers not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard.

The revised ETS changed the COVID isolation and quarantine periods for workers testing positive or exposed to a positive case.  For example, all fully-vaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts were permitted to return to work immediately with social distancing for 14 days.  All unvaccinated asymptomatic close contacts could return to work either: (i) after 14 days with no physical distancing requirements; (ii) after 10 days with distancing for 14 days; or (iii) after seven days upon receipt of a negative test at least five days after the close contact, with physical distancing for 14 days.

Then on December 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended time for isolation and quarantine to as little as five days. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) promptly matched those isolation and quarantine five-day timeframes along with some additional testing and masking requirements.

These standards contradicted many of the ETS’s 14- and 10-day exclusion periods.

Accordingly, on January 6 and through two new FAQs,  Cal/OSHA again adjusted its recommended isolation and quarantine periods to largely align with the CDPH’s. Not that the field is no longer complex.  The FAQs address the CDPH exclusion periods in three detailed tables, which must be carefully reviewed to determine whether and for how long to exclude a particular COVID case or a close contact from the workplace.

Take-Aways:  As of January 14, 2022, employers should follow the Cal/OSHA exclusion tables provided in the new FAQs. Employers must also check for any local county guidance, such as Los Angeles County’s Isolation and Quarantine orders. Consulting with management-side employment counsel on best solutions to meet applicable, ever-changing and sometimes confusing workplace exclusion requirements is always sound practice.

We will address these ETS revisions and FAQs more fully in our upcoming employment law webinar.

See also:

For more information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth
January 14, 2022

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