Updated: Jun 20, 2021
California employers are tasked with documenting "Fully Vaccinated" workers under newly released state standards. Without this documentation, employers must treat an employee as unvaccinated (requiring full masking if the employee comes into contact with others).
But the regulations contain no guidance for "documenting" vaccination status. We believe that expansive forms such as that required in Santa Clara County go too far - requesting unnecessary information beyond whether an individual is currently "Fully Vaccinated." (The Santa Clara County form can be viewed here.)
Cal-OSHA admits that the new regulation "does not specify a particular method," noting only that employers "must record the vaccination status for any employee not wearing a face covering indoors and this record must be kept confidential." It suggests options such as keeping copies of vaccination cards, recording the identity of employees who have proof without keeping a copy, and maintaining the identity of employees who "self-attest to vaccination status." (Se DOSH FAQs, here.)
Requesting medical information not expressly required by law can be an unlawful inquiry under state and federal law. Overly broad inquiries are a major concern, particularly as the pandemic recedes and government agencies become less forgiving (as they have) of medical information collection.
We have prepared a sample form that can be used for discussion under the new regulations. Employers adopting a form should remember that it is a sensitive document covered by laws such as the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act and federal HIPAA. Employers should also remember that vaccination requirements are subject to potential disability and religious belief accommodation, and that the use of face coverings may require physical, mental, and hearing disability/communication accommodations as well.
A sample of our current form (disclaimer: not to be used without attorney advice!) can be viewed here.