Cal/OSHA’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health does not intend to add exclusion pay to the non-emergency version of its COVID-19 standard. Deputy Chief for Health Eric Berg said at today’s meeting of the Standards Board. California businesses are relieved that the exclusion pay provision is out but unhappy that the standard is proceeding.
Berg said that adding pay for employees required to be excluded from the workplace because of COVID would require a delay in implementing the proposed extended standard of at least several months. Therefore, “We do not plan to make any further changes to this proposal.”
The Standards Board will vote on the regulation at its December meeting, and the standard is expected to take effect at the first of the year. It will sunset after two years; in the meantime, DOSH is scheduled to work on a permanent airborne infectious disease standard for general industry.
At the Board’s previous meeting in October, Chairman David Thomas, speaking at the behest of labor, outright demanded that DOSH add the controversial provision. The current emergency standard, in effect until the end of 2022, provides for exclusion pay.
Labor has insisted that the provision be included in the new standard version. But Mitch Steiger, legislative advocate for the California Labor Federation, signaled labor’s realization that it wasn’t in the cards when he told the Board that it was vital to adopt the non-emergency regulation to be ready in January 2023 “with or without exclusion pay.”
Thomas said he is “disappointed” that there will be no exclusion pay in the new standard but doesn’t want to delay implementation.
The new two-year standard conflicts ideologically with California Governor Gavin Newsom, who extended his State of Emergency only one year.