20 million Californians have already been vaccinated, with all individuals age 16 and up eligible for vaccination effective April 15th. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing recently released updated COVID-19 guidance, which included guidance on employer vaccination programs. The California Labor Commissioner followed suit and released guidance regarding COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination pertaining to California regulations governed by the Labor Commissioner.
According to the Labor Commissioner, if an employer requires an employee to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccination, the employer must pay for the time it takes for the testing or vaccination, including the time, spent traveling if the testing/vaccination is off-site. As “hours worked,” employers should remember that all time associated with employer-mandated testing and vaccinations must be considered for overtime purposes, and comply with California’s meal and rest period requirements.
The Labor Commissioner also indicated if an employee is mandated by an employer to be tested for COVID-19 or be vaccinated, any cost of the test or vaccination must be reimbursed by the employer as a business expense. If the test or vaccine is conducted off-site, the employee is also entitled to travel time and business mileage reimbursement for travel to and from the off-site location.
An employee may also use COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for a vaccination appointment not mandated by the employer. It is important to note that the employer cannot require the use of paid leave when testing and obtaining a vaccination is mandated by the employer since that would be considered “hours worked.”
Jackson Lewis continues to track COVID-19 legislation and guidance affecting employers. If you have questions about the COVID-19 obligations for employers or related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.