Until now, governments big and small have stopped requiring people to get vaccinated, encouraging, cuddling and, instead, in some cases, bribing the public to get the shots.

Santa Clara County officials may have found another way, potentially making it easier for fully vaccinated people to do their jobs. As the county moved to the state’s least restrictive yellow level, it announced that companies were required to determine the immunization status of each of their employees and certain contractors, or risk facing fines ranging from up to $ 5,000 per violation per day.

Companies can rely on contractors to check the immunization status of their own workers, but the guidelines encourage them to recheck.

Santa Clara County businesses must request and record every employee’s immunization status by June 1, including noting those who refuse to say so and treating them as not fully immunized. Companies are also required to follow up every 14 days with workers who are not fully immunized or who refuse to speak about their status.

The ordinance applies to people who work locally in the county. Others, like people working from home, are encouraged but not required to share their status.

Employers are expected to keep records of the government-issued vaccination card of employees or require people to complete self-certification. form. While government guidelines have helped businesses request and track this type of information, it should be treated confidentially, just like other medical records.

Masking and social distancing requirements are more relaxed for those vaccinated based on guidelines released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The proposed statewide rules will likely lift many restrictions on people vaccinated at work next month, like social distancing and mask warrants.

“Rather than making the vaccine itself mandatory, we are seeing methods to encourage more people to get vaccinated,” said Hannah Sweiss, an employment lawyer at the Fisher Phillips law firm who is part of the group. the company’s COVID-19 work. “If we have different restrictions on who is vaccinated in the workplace, we need to understand who is vaccinated and who is not.”

Even asking the question about immunization status is a tough step for some employers, said DJ Robertson, president of Greenlee’s Bakery in San Jose.

Robertson was even hesitant to comment on the requirement, saying it could irritate employees and customers alike. Some people “will certainly not be happy with this,” he said, adding that decisions about vaccinations are a matter of deeply held beliefs for some.

Other Bay Area counties in the yellow level, including San Mateo and San Francisco, do not currently have the same rules requiring companies to inquire about vaccine status. Part of this could be explained by the fact that it could increase tensions in the workplace.

In addition to outright vaccine refusal and skepticism, there are religious and health reasons why a person might refuse to be vaccinated, said Domenique Camacho Moran, a labor and employment lawyer at the New Law firm. -Yorkis Farrell Fritz.

“We don’t want to walk around in yellow T-shirts and green T-shirts,” for vaccinated and unvaccinated people at work, she said. Tensions and allegations of discrimination could arise if people who refuse to be vaccinated for religious or health reasons are treated differently at work – forced to hide and move away – than those who are vaccinated, she said. added.

Moran also said reading the rules as encouraging vaccinations made sense. “I think there is a very reasonable subtext that those who are vaccinated are going to enjoy a better life,” she said.

But for those who refuse for one reason or another, keeping the vaccination status confidential will be next to impossible.

“Someone’s individual vaccination status will be known if they are going to remove a mask,” said Sweiss, the lawyer.

Other cities have tackled the issue by giving employers more flexibility.

In New York, employers have the option of working on the honor system when it comes to vaccines. They can also require employees to get vaccinated or ask questions about the status of the vaccine, Moran said.

She said that despite changes made by the CDC regarding masking for those vaccinated, she has told many companies she works with that employees keep their masks.

“For many companies, the most reasonable approach is, ‘We really want everyone to go for the shots, but we want to keep your masks on the job,” Moran said. “At least for now.”

Chase DiFeliciantonio is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ChaseDiFelice

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