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California County’s Order Requires Businesses to Track COVID-19 Vaccination Status of All Employees

Health authorities in Santa Clara County, California, said that businesses are now required to determine the vaccination status of employees.

An announcement posted on the county’s website this week stipulated: “All businesses and government entities must ascertain the vaccination status of personnel and must comply with the rules for personnel who are not fully vaccinated, as required under” a recent county order.

The health order allows an employee to decline to hand over their COVID-19 vaccination status to their employer. If the employee declines to provide the information, the business “should assume the employee may be unvaccinated and follow State and local requirements for unvaccinated employees.”

The order raises obvious privacy questions.

A Bay Area-based lawyer, Sandy Rappaport of Hanson Bridgett, told the Mercury News that employers have to generally keep vaccination statuses of employees confidential, noting that the new order “seems to mandate that employers disclose employees’ vaccination status” because unvaccinated employees would have to wear masks at work.

“This order does go farther than what most employers have been doing, in that it requires employers to collect the information by either reviewing an employee’s vaccination card or having an employee complete a self-certification form, and the employer has to maintain records of what has been reviewed,” Rappaport told the paper, saying that if an employee refuses, their bosses have to—under the order—keep asking them their status every two weeks.