I Want to Have a Safer and Healthier Workplace What safe and healthful work practices are required?

Physical Distancing

There are no physical distancing or barrier requirements in the workplace regardless of employee vaccination status with the following exceptions:

  • Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
  • Employers must implement physical distancing during a major outbreak (20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)


You must encourage hand washing and allow more time for frequent, adequate hand washing, which includes:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Washing commonly missed areas such as palms, back of hand, thumbs, underneath fingernails and between fingers.

Hand Sanitizer

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, provide employees with an effective hand sanitizer by distributing them at various locations throughout the worksite. Hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not immediately available, but hand sanitizer is not effective if the hands are soiled. Do not provide or allow the use of hand sanitizers containing methyl alcohol.

Face Coverings

The latest guidance from the California Department of Public Health does not require face coverings in workplaces except in specified high-risk settings, including healthcare settings, public transit and transportation hubs, correctional facilities and shelters. Employers must provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees when the CDPH or local health departments require their use.

Employers may still require the use of face coverings as a prevention measure.

In addition, employers must still require certain employees to wear face coverings during a workplace outbreak of COVID-19 and in employer-provided transportation.

Employees may request face coverings from their employer. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for using or requesting a face covering.

Employees may request respirators such as N95 masks for voluntary use from their employers. Employers must provide the requested face coverings and respirators at no cost to the employees.

Indoor Airflow and Filtration

To make the workplace safer from COVID-19, employers must evaluate how to increase airflow and filtration at work. This means employers must take steps to improve airflow and filtration whenever possible. Cal/OSHA has guidance to help employers evaluate airflow in different settings. Visit https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html#ventilation

The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards requires employers to review CDPH’s Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.

Permit and Encourage Use of Paid Sick Leave and Workers' Compensation

If a worker is sick or has been exposed to COVID-19 you must provide the worker with certain wages and/or benefits. For more detailed information on the wages or benefits listed below, explore the page A worker may be sick or exposed to COVID-19 at my workplace on this site.

You may be obligated to provide paid sick leave.

If your workers qualify for paid sick leave, you must allow them to take the leave immediately upon their written or oral request.

From January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022, California required most employers to provide workers up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 reasons. Employers with 26 or more employees during this period had to provide this paid time off for workers who needed to stay home due to COVID-19 illness, exposure, caring for a family member, a COVID test or vaccine, recovering from side effects and more. If a worker took unpaid time off due to COVID-19 in 2022, they should be paid for these sick leave hours. More information is available in the Labor Commissioner's frequently asked questions.

In 2020, California authorized emergency COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave of up to 80 hours for most workers. The 2020 requirement expired on December 31, 2020. Another law, SB 95, authorized 2021 SPSL. The law went into effect on March 29 and was retroactive to January 1, 2021. The law required qualifying employees be provided up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework due to specific COVID-19 reasons. The leave time also applied to getting a COVID-19 vaccine and recovering from symptoms related to the vaccine. 2021 SPSL is was in effect until September 30, 2021 for employers with 26 or more workers. Small businesses employing 25 or fewer workers were exempt from the law but may offer supplemental paid sick leave and receive a federal tax credit, if eligible. If your employees took unpaid time off due to COVID-19 before these laws expired, they might still be able to request pay after expiration.

Exclusion Pay requirements from the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards are expiring in January 2023. Non-Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations that do not include Exclusion Pay requirements will become effective in the month of January 2023 once approved by the Office of Administrative Law. The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) remain in effect until the new regulations become effective. Read more about the non-emergency regulations and the ETS.

Cal/OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on COVID-19 Prevention require employers to exclude employees from the workplace under certain circumstances related to workplace exposure to COVID-19. While the employee is excluded, their employer must maintain their pay and benefits if the exposure was work-related. For more information on the ETS and whether it applies to your workplace, refer to Cal/OSHA's Frequently Asked Questions.

If a test confirms an employee has COVID-19 and was exposed to COVID-19 at work, the employee might be eligible for workers' compensation, which provides benefits that include:

Remember: Taking an adverse act, including cutting pay or hours, terminating or suspending, in response to workers exercising their rights under the law, including making an oral or written complaint about working conditions or demand for benefits, is unlawful retaliation.

Take an online workplace health and safety training on COVID-19 infection prevention

December 2022