Businesses and Workplaces

Last content update:  6/27/2022

Note:

    Guidance for Safe Operation

    Businesses in Santa Clara County are responsible for taking steps to protect the health of their workers and customers by minimizing close contact between people and maintaining a clean and sanitary work environment. Most businesses are no longer required by law to report individual cases of COVID-19. However, they are required to report all outbreaks (3 or more cases as defined by CDPH) within 48 hours through the  Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking. For more information on business requirements for reporting cases of COVID-19, please see CDPH Employees and Workplaces Guidance and All Guidance Documents by Topic.

      Step 1: Encourage Employees to Stay Home if they Feel Sick

      Encourage workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home if they are sick, or go home right away if they develop COVID-19 symptoms while at the worksite. The guidance below also applies to workers who have been vaccinated but are showing COVID-19 symptoms.

      If, upon arrival at the worksite or at any time during the workday, a worker appears to have any COVID-19 symptoms, the worker should be encouraged to go home immediately and stay home until 24 hours after resolution of fever (without fever-reducing medication) and improvement in other symptoms AND until testing is negative or determination that testing is not needed.

      It is recommended an employee who is working remotely report experiencing any of these symptoms to his or her supervisor immediately if the worker has been at the worksite within 48 hours of first experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

      You may assess and discuss with the worker whether remote work is appropriate while he or she is at home. 

       

      Step 2: Recommend the worker to get tested for COVID-19

      Recommend the worker to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Testing resources can be found at www.sccfreetest.org. The Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards require employers to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost to employees with COVID-19 symptoms who are not fully vaccinated, during employees' paid time. The worker should follow isolation guidance as appropriate.

      • If the worker tests negative for COVID-19, the worker should remain at home until at least 24 hours after resolution of fever (if any) without use of fever-reducing medication and improvement in other symptoms. 
      • If the worker tests positive for COVID-19, the worker should notify their supervisor immediately and continue to follow isolation guidance.

       

      For more information, please see:

      In the event a worker tests positive for COVID-19, employers can follow this step-by-step protocol which provides guidance to employers and employees, as well as volunteers, contractors, or other people who work at the facility. Employers must comply with all applicable state and federal laws and any collective bargaining obligations.

      Employees who test positive can be directed to isolation guidance.


      When to Use this Protocol

      Use this protocol if the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at the workplace within the 48 hours before they developed symptoms (or 48 hours before their positive COVID-19 test was taken, if they never had symptoms) or at any time during their isolation period. See isolation guidance for more information.

      Note: This protocol should be triggered as soon as you learn that a person at your workplace has received a positive result on a COVID-19 test and was at the workplace within 48 hours of developing symptoms. You may not avoid the requirement to implement this protocol by re-testing the person, even if the results of one or more re-tests are negative.  The County Health Officer does not recommend repeated testing to confirm a positive test result due to the low likelihood of a false positive on the initial test.

      Note: In the event of an outbreak (3 or more cases at the worksite as defined by CDPH), the employer is ALSO required to complete all steps in What to Do if There is a COVID-19 Outbreak at the Worksite

      Step 1: Provide instructions to the COVID-19-positive worker

      Work Exclusion & Isolation Period

      Non-high-risk, non-congregate settings: The COVID-19 positive worker must be sent home immediately and instructed to isolate. These instructions apply to all those who test positive, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. 

      The County of Santa Clara discourages employers from requiring a medical note to return to work as long as the criteria detailed in the Return to Work Letter below are met.

      Updated 5/25/22 Return to Work Letter (PDF):
      | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |

      High-risk, congregate settings (healthcare settings or congregate living settings, such as jails or shelters)Healthcare workers in acute care hospitals or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) should follow the isolation, testing, and work restriction guidance in AFL 21-08. Staff and residents in other high-risk settings* should follow the COVID-19 Guidelines for Staff and Residents in High-Risk Settings.

      *Other high-risk settings include all healthcare settings not covered by AFL 21-08 and congregate settings such as shelters, correctional facilities, long-term care settings, and adult and senior care facilities. See CDPH for more information and refer to CDPH guidance for your facility type. All shelters should refer to CDPH Guidance for Clients in Congregate Shelters.

      Step 2: Identify all close contacts to the COVID-19-positive worker

      Maintain Confidentiality

      Employers should keep employees’ medical information confidential in accordance with federal and state laws.  Limit disclosure of the identity of the COVID-19 positive worker in your effort to identify close contacts. Please consult with your attorney if you have any questions about applicable employment or privacy laws. 

      Identify Close Contacts During the Exposure Period

      The employer must investigate and document the employee’s schedule and work location to determine: 1) the day their symptoms began (if applicable); 2) the date of their first positive test; and 3) the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was present at the workplace.

      This information must then be used by the employer to identify all individuals who may have had close contact with the confirmed-positive employee during the exposure period.

      Employers may consider instituting a policy informing employees that if they are confirmed to have COVID-19, they will be requested to provide a list of other employees with whom they had close contact during the exposure period. 

      Step 3: Communicate with All Employees

      Work Exclusion, Quarantine & Testing for Close Contacts

      Non-high-risk, non-congregate settings: For guidelines for close contacts, please see COVID-19 Guidelines for the General Public.

      The County of Santa Clara discourages employers from requiring a medical note to return to work as long as the criteria detailed in the Return to Work Letter below are met.

      Updated 5/25/22 Return to Work Letter (PDF):
      | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |

      High-risk, congregate settings (healthcare settings or congregate living settings, such as jails or shelters): Healthcare workers in hospitals or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) should follow the isolation, testing, and work restriction guidance in AFL-21-08. Staff and residents in other high-risk settings* should follow the COVID-19 Guidelines for Staff and Residents in High-Risk Settings.

      *Other high-risk settings include all healthcare settings not covered by AFL 21-08 and congregate settings such as shelters, correctional facilities, long-term care settings, and adult and senior care facilities. See CDPH for more information and refer to CDPH guidance for your facility type. All shelters should refer to CDPH Guidance for Clients in Congregate Shelters.

      General Advisory & Symptom Monitoring for All Other Employees

      All others present at the workplace, but NOT identified as close contacts, should be advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days after the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work. This includes individuals who have been vaccinated. They may continue to work, but if they develop symptoms, they are strongly recommended to stay home (or if at work, must be sent home immediately) until 24 hours after resolution of fever (without fever-reducing medication) and improvement in other symptoms AND until testing is negative or determination that testing is not needed.  Further, all other laws applicable to certain sectors (i.e., food handlers, daycares etc.) must still be enforced to prevent spread of other types of acute communicable diseases.

      Step 4: Report Outbreaks to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department

      Most businesses are no longer required by law to report individual cases of COVID-19. However, they are required to report all outbreaks (3 or more cases as defined by CDPH) within 48 hours through the Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking . The information provided will remain confidential and does not affect immigration status.  You may update the information you provide if you discover additional information after your initial report. The Public Health Department may ask for further information to be reported if a worksite outbreak is identified. 

      Step 5: Report Any Hospitalizations or Deaths to the Local Cal/OSHA District Office

      Any serious injury, illness, or death occurring in any place of employment or in connection with any employment must be reported by the employer to the local Cal/OSHA district office immediately. For COVID-19, this includes hospitalizations and deaths among employees, even if work-relatedness is uncertain.

      Step 6: Disinfection After a Confirmed COVID-19 Case at the Workplace

      According to Cal/OSHA ETS, 8 CCR section 3205(c)(7)(B) - Employers shall implement cleaning and disinfecting procedures, which require:

      Cleaning of areas, material, and equipment used by a COVID-19 case during the high-risk exposure period, and disinfection if the area, material, or equipment is indoors and will be used by another employee within 24 hours of the COVID-19 case.
       

      Step 7: Preventing Workplace COVID-19 Transmission

      Businesses are required to:

      1. Complete at least two rounds of ascertainment of employees’ vaccination status (see the  County’s “Ascertainment of Vaccination Status” FAQs for more information about requirements for businesses to ascertain their employees’ vaccination status.)
      2. Provide vaccination information to all employees
      3. Ensure that employees who test positive for COVID-19 are excluded from work during their isolation period (see COVID-19 Guidelines for the General Public for more information)
      4. Ensure that employees quarantine and/or get tested as recommended if they are identified as a close contact to a case (see COVID-19 Guidelines for the General Public for more information)
      5. Ensure that employees working onsite wear masks in indoor settings where the State continues to require masking (see CDPH Guidance for the Use of Face Masks for more information)

      Businesses are recommended to:

      Encourage Vaccination

      The most important thing a workplace can do to decrease risk of COVID-19 in the workplace is to facilitate vaccination where feasible. All individuals ages 5 and up are eligible for vaccination. More information about available vaccines and how to access them can be found at www.sccfreevax.org 

      Enforce Face Covering Use When Necessary

      Face coverings must be worn at certain times and in certain settings as required by the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings, and Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards (“Cal/OSHA ETS”). In addition, businesses are urged to adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas of their businesses to provide better protection to their employees and customers. 

      Consider Restructuring the Workplace to Better Support Social Distancing

      Outside of a major outbreak, there is no longer a uniform physical distancing requirement under Cal/OSHA’s ETS.  However, employers must still assess workplace hazards and implement controls to prevent disease, which in some cases may include physical distancing.  In addition, nothing in the ETS prevents employers from implementing additional protective measures, such as physical distancing and barriers.  The County of Santa Clara recommends that, in addition to complying with the ETS, employers consider whether additional physical distancing measures are feasible and would enhance safety (e.g., spacing desks or workstations, encouraging workers who are not yet up to date on their vaccinations to eat outdoors, etc.). 

        A worksite outbreak is defined by CDPH as 3 or more cases at a worksite within a 14-day period. During an outbreak or when ongoing transmission is suspected at the worksite, employers must still follow Steps 1-6 under What to Do When Someone at the Workplace Tests Positive for COVID-19, however there are additional considerations and actions that can be taken.

        Response Testing:

        If a COVID-19 outbreak has been identified or suspected, it is important to identify and test all potentially exposed individuals regardless of their vaccination status. Regular testing of all potentially exposed individuals may help identify additional cases that should be excluded from work. Contact tracing alone is unlikely to identify all cases and contacts early in an outbreak.

        By the time an outbreak has been detected, there may be additional cases coming to work who have not yet been identified as positive.

        Testing of potentially exposed individuals should take place at least once weekly until there have been no cases at the worksite for a 14-day period, but more frequent testing may be useful if the outbreak is large or there is evidence of continued ongoing transmission. Refer to Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for more on testing obligations for employers.

        Additional Modifications to Prevent Transmission During Outbreaks:

        During an outbreak, additional layers of protection may be needed to halt transmission. Businesses may choose to increase physical distancing, increase telework/remote work options, adjust schedules, or even halt operations. See below for related Guidance for Ventilation and Air Filtration Systems.

        It is also important during an outbreak to review internal COVID-19 response plans, identify ongoing COVID-19 hazards at the workplace, and determine what additional mitigation steps may be needed.

        Note: If your business is experiencing an outbreak and you need support in understanding the above guidance or would like additional technical assistance from Public Health, please contact [email protected].

        Use this protocol if 3 or more cases are reported in a high-risk or congregate setting workplace within a 14-day period, defined by CDPH as a worksite outbreak. High-risk, congregate settings include all healthcare facilities and residential congregate settings, such as jails and shelters. For steps on reporting outbreaks in non-high-risk, non-congregate settings, see Outbreak Reporting for Non-High-Risk, Non-Congregate Settings.

        Step 1: Report Outbreaks to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department

        Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking (SPOT)

        Most businesses are no longer required by law to report individual cases of COVID-19. However, they are required to report case information for all outbreaks (3 or more cases as defined by CDPH) within 48 hours through the Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking. The information provided will remain confidential and does not affect immigration status.  You may update the information you provide if you discover additional information after your initial report. 

        While submission of close contact information via SPOT is optional, employers may gather information for all people who have been identified as close contacts, including any vendors/suppliers, visitors, or others who had close contact with the employee at the worksite.

        • If you do not have an existing SPOT account, submit a SPOT Intake Form to start the account setup process.
        • For technical assistance with submission of SPOT Intake Forms (e.g., login or password assistance), please contact the SPOT Help Desk at [email protected] or call (916) 520-1619.

         

        Step 2: Receive Confirmation that a SPOT Intake Form was Received

        Following submission of a SPOT Intake Form to report an outbreak, the submitter will receive a confirmation email from the Public Health Department that the SPOT Intake Form(s) were received as well as an Exposure Event ID number. For more information on accessing/updating Exposure Events, see SPOT User Guide (English | Spanish). The Public Health Department may contact the employer and may ask for further information to be reported. 

        Step 3: Report Any Additional Cases to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department

        To report updates or additional cases, see SPOT User Guide (English | Spanish).

        Use this protocol if 3 or more cases are reported in a non-high-risk or non-congregate setting workplace within a 14-day period, defined by CDPH as a worksite outbreak. Non-high-risk, non-congregate settings include all workplaces that are NOT healthcare facilities or residential congregate settings, such as jails and shelters. For steps on reporting outbreaks in high-risk, congregate settings, see Outbreak Reporting for High-Risk, Congregate Settings.

        Step 1: Report Outbreaks to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department

        Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking (SPOT)

        Most businesses are no longer required by law to report individual cases of COVID-19. However, they are required to report case information for all outbreaks (3 or more cases as defined by CDPH ) within 48 hours through the Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking. The information provided will remain confidential and does not affect immigration status.  You may update the information you provide if you discover additional information after your initial report.

        While submission of close contact information via SPOT is optional, employers may gather information for all people who have been identified as close contacts, including any vendors/suppliers, visitors, or others who had close contact with the employee at the worksite.

        • Note: It is recommended that non-high-risk, non-congregate setting employers report ALL case information upon submission of the SPOT Intake Form. 
        • If you do not have an existing SPOT account, submit a SPOT Intake Form to start the account setup process.
        • For technical assistance with submission of SPOT Intake Forms (e.g., login or password assistance), please contact the SPOT Help Desk at [email protected] or call (916) 520-1619.

         

        Step 2: Receive Confirmation that a SPOT Intake Form was Received

        Following submission of SPOT Intake Form(s) to report information on all COVID-19 cases at the worksite, the requirement for reporting COVID-19 outbreaks to the County is met. The submitter will receive a confirmation email from the Public Health Department that the SPOT Intake Form(s) were received.

        • Note: An Exposure Event ID will no longer be routinely created after a SPOT Intake Form is submitted by the worksite liaison. For this reason, worksite liaisons need to ensure they add all exposure and case information necessary on the SPOT Intake Form.

        Step 3: Report Any Additional Cases to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department

        To report additional cases, employers should submit another SPOT Intake Form.

          Assistance and resources for funding and support for business that are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.​

            • On the SBA website, there is information about several temporary relief programs to support small businesses that were established by the CARES Act and subsequent legislation.
            • The Northern California Small Business Development Center can help small businesses navigate resources and answer business questions.
            • Small businesses that participated in the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), can find information about PPP loan forgiveness on the SBA website. Further information on the PPP is available from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
            • California IBank has low-interest and state-guaranteed business loans and microloans for small business borrowers who have been impacted by regional disasters and who need term loans or lines of credit for working capital.
            • The California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) for Small Business encourages banks and other financial institutions to make loans to small businesses that have difficulty obtaining financing. If you own a small business and need a loan for start-up, expansion, or working capital, you may receive more favorable loan terms from a lender if your loan is enrolled in the CalCAP Loan Loss Reserve Program. A list of participating lending institutions is available here.
            • The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) offers resource information on financial and technical assistance for small businesses throughout California.
            • Employee Retention Credit: The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.  Wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021, are eligible for the credit. 
            • The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship created this Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act to help small business owners navigate the resources introduced by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
            • Employers who have difficulty locating and purchasing non-medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their workers may utilize Safely Making California, a partnership between the State, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, and Autodesk. Safely Making California helps connect employers to manufacturers of non-medical grade PPE.

            Sales and Use Tax Liability (State of California) - Extensions and Relief for Small Business Taxpayers

            Effective December 15, 2020, small business taxpayers with less than $5 million in taxable annual sales can take advantage of a 12-month, interest-free payment plan for up to $50,000 of sales and use tax liability.  All payment plans must be paid in full by April 30, 2022, to qualify for zero interest. Businesses with $5 million or more in annual taxable sales in sectors particularly impacted by operational restrictions due to the pandemic may also apply for this 12-month interest-free payment plan.  (Please Note: This relief only applies to sales and use tax due on returns with original due dates between December 15, 2020 and April 30, 2021. A business that previously took advantage of the 12-month, interest-free payment plan that must be paid in full by July 31, 2021, may also request to participate in this new 12-month interest-free payment plan.)  For more details and to apply, visit the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s website or call 1-800-400-7115 (California Relay Service: 711).​

            • The Labor & Workforce Development Agency has compiled a centralized source of information on topics such as paid sick leave, disability and unemployment insurance, workplace health and safety guidance, and employer assistance. Use the guidance on their website to determine what is best for you, your family, and your workplace.
            • The California Labor Commissioner’s Office (en español) lists answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding employee leave options, compensation, and salary.
            • The Employment Development Department (EDD) (en español​) provides a variety of resources for employers who anticipate a reduction of work hours, or potential closure or layoffs as a result of COVID-19. Employers experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19 may also request up to a 60-day extension from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. For questions, employers may call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center at (888) 745-3886 (TTY: 1-800-547-9565).
            • The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has compiled information regarding workplace safety and health requirements that California employers must take to protect workers from COVID-19 at the workplace.
            • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance regarding ADA compliance, medical exams, confidential medical information, anti-discrimination laws, and other employment matters related to COVID-19.  Businesses should work with legal counsel to address employment law questions as the County cannot provide legal advice regarding employment matters related to COVID-19 in the workplace. 
            • The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has also provided COVID-19 guidance and resources for employers and housing providers.
            • The Employment Development Department (en español) provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19in California:
            • Sick or Quarantined: If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19, you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have full or partial loss of wages due to non-work-related illnesses.
            • Caregiving: If you’re unable to work because you are caring for ill or quarantined family members with COVID-19, you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to eight weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member.
            • Reduced Work Hours: If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own.
            • OnwardCA is a private initiative of companies and foundations that serves California workers displaced by COVID-19. OnwardCA provides essential life services (such as money, groceries, or childcare), job training, and job matching.
            • The Workers page on the State’s COVID-19 website lists information on unemployment insurance, help for self-employed workers and independent contractors, and more.
            • This chart created by the State’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency lists the benefits available to workers affected by COVID-19.
            • Multiple fact sheets relating to COVID-19 in the workplace are available on Legal Aid at Work’s website.
              • For housing support for those that are homeless, call the County's Joint Operations Center at 408-278-6420.
              • For those needing support that have been identified as close contact to a positive case or are positive for COVID-19, please call 408-808-7770. Please review all Isolation & Quarantine support services here.
              • For food assistance, call Second Harvest Food Bank at 1-800-984-3663.
              • If you do not have a regular doctor, please call the Primary Care Access Program at 408-556-6605 to speak to a doctor about your symptoms.
              • For information on COVID-19 testing in the County—including who should get tested and where—visit the County Public Health Department website: www.sccgov.org/cv19testing.
              • Remember, getting help for COVID-19 will not reduce your chances of obtaining U.S. residency or citizenship. So please, reach out for help if you need it.
              • To see if you qualify for a program that can cover a portion of your lost wages due to COVID-19 visit: sccfairworkplace.org or call 1-866-870-7725.
              • If your employer is not complying with business requirements to operate or the Social Distancing Protocol, call the County of Santa Clara Office of Labor Standards Enforcement at 1-866-870-7725 or visit www.sccCOVIDconcerns.org to report any deficiencies in compliance with Protocol requirements.

              ©2022 County of Santa Clara. All rights reserved.