First-of-Its-Kind Employee Vaccination Confirmation Mandate Issued By Santa Clara County, California

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

May 27, 2021

Employers in Santa Clara County, California, face a June 1 deadline to find out the COVID-19 vaccination status of all personnel who work for the employer. Under a May 18 order of the county's health officer, employers must make the initial determination about a worker's COVID-19 vaccination status by June 1, and document it. This marks the first order of its kind in the nation.

The order, which took effect on May 19, broadly defines an employer to include for-profit and not-for-profit businesses and government agencies. Personnel is defined as any of the following that provide goods or services or perform operations associated with a business in the county:

  • Employees;
  • Volunteers;
  • Contractors and subcontractors;
  • Independent contractors (including "gig workers" who use the business's app or platform);
  • Vendors who sell goods onsite; and
  • Any other individuals who regularly provide services onsite.

The county has provided a self-certification form that employers may use to record an individual's vaccination status or that an individual declined to provide their status. If an employee declines to provide their status or their status has not been confirmed, an employer must treat them as unvaccinated and required them to comply with the county's face coverings mandate and other health requirements for unvaccinated persons.

In addition, employers must still comply with federal and state COVID requirements. If any regulations conflict, an employer must comply with the most restrictive requirements. Failure to comply with the order may result in fines, imprisonment or both.

The Santa Clara County Health Department has published FAQs on its website to help employers to understand and navigate their obligations under the new order.