December 18, 2020

Cal/OSHA’s 14-Day Quarantine Requirement Reduced to 10 Days (If Local Requirements Allow)

On December 14, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order which changes the quarantine requirements of Cal/OSHA’s recently implemented Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) .

Reduced Quarantine Period for Asymptomatic Exposures

As we previously reported, Cal/OSHA’s ETS require that employers remove all employees exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace for 14 days. (“Exposed” means the employee was within six feet of a COVID-19 case for 15 or more cumulative minutes in a 24-hour period during the high-risk exposure period.) Employers are required to pay employees during the 14-day quarantine period.

Incorporating new guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Governor Newsom’s Executive Order relaxes the 14-day quarantine period for asymptomatic exposures. Now, asymptomatic employees may return to work 10 days after the employee’s last exposure, with or without testing.

However, the 10-day quarantine period will only apply if it exceeds “any applicable quarantine or isolation period recommended or ordered by a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace.” Accordingly, employers must consult local quarantine orders before implementing a 10-day quarantine period. If a local order requires a 14-day quarantine period, then the employer must continue to abide by that rule until when, and if, local requirements are updated.

CDPH guidance further limits the quarantine period for certain health workers to seven days when certain requirements are met.

Operating Under a 10-Day Quarantine Period

The new CDPH guidance places requirements on asymptomatic exposed employees who return to work under the shortened 10-day quarantine period. Specifically, employees must:

  1. Strictly adhere to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, which include wearing face coverings at all times, frequent handwashing, and social distancing until 14 days after the employee’s exposure; and
  2. Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. If an employee experiences a COVID-19 symptom within 14 days of exposure, the employee is required to immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing.

In addition to the above requirements, healthcare workers who return to work after a seven-day quarantine period must wear a surgical mask at all times until 14 days after the employee’s exposure.

What Employers Should Do Next
Employers should immediately consult local quarantine orders to determine whether they can implement a 10-day quarantine period. If so, employers should update their policies and procedures, including their COVID-19 Prevention Program, which employers are now required to have under Cal/OSHA’s ETS.

Still Struggling to Understand Cal/OSHA’s ETS?
The Department of Industrial Relations has issued guidance and a model COVID-19 Prevention Program, available here. Additionally, check out Michelle Freeman’s podcast on this subject. (Note this podcast was recorded prior to Governor Newsom’s December 14, 2020 Executive Order and therefore does not address the 10-day quarantine period discussed above.)

For further information, please reach out to the Hirschfeld Kraemer lawyer who normally provides your legal counsel, or contact Michelle Freeman,, (415) 835-9003.