I Want to be Safer and Healthier at Work During the COVID‑19 Pandemic What are my rights to be safer and healthier at work?
- What are my rights to be safer and healthier at work?
- What should my employer provide to prevent the spread?
- What are safer workplace practices?
- What can I do about safety or health concerns at work?
- What if I am concerned about retaliation from my employer?
Worker Protections under California Law
All workers in California, regardless of immigration status, have the right to:
- Protection from safety and health hazards, including COVID-19
- Report an unsafe workplace
- Refuse to work in unsafe conditions
It is illegal for your employer to reduce your hours, fire you or retaliate against you for exercising your labor rights.
Employer Responsibilities under California Law
Employers are required to protect workers from unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions, such as exposure to COVID-19. This requires employers to do a number of things, including:
- Provide and Ensure bthe proper use of face coverings at work:
- Employees are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.
- Fully vaccinated employees working indoors or in vehicles do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear face coverings. Employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors.
- Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators such as N95 masks for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.
- It is illegal for employers to retaliate against any worker for using a face covering.
- Employees required to wear face coverings, such as unvaccinated employees working indoors, are permitted to not wear face coverings in certain conditions.
- When an employee is alone in a room or vehicle.
- While eating or drinking at the workplace, provided employees are at least six feet apart and outside air supply to the area, if indoors, has been maximized to the extent feasible.
- Employees wearing respirators required by the employer and used in compliance in accordance with section 5144 or other title 8 safety orders.
- Employees who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, or who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person.
- While doing specific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed with a face covering. This exception is limited to the time period in which such tasks are actually being performed.
- Employees have the right to request a face covering if they wish to use one, regardless of their vaccination status.
- Adjust work processes or procedures to help prevent exposure to COVID-19,
- Develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program,
- Provide effective training to all workers, and more.
Under the law, workers have the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards and employers cannot retaliate or punish them for doing so.
More ResourcesRead a factsheet about revisions to Cal/OSHA's COVID-19 Prevention emergency temporary standards