Businesses and Workplaces

Last content update:  3/23/23

As of January 1, 2023, employers in non-healthcare settings are no longer required to report COVID-19 outbreaks among staff to the Public Health Department. 

For more information on COVID-19-related requirements for businesses and employers in non-healthcare settings, refer to Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations.


    Guidance for Safe Operation

    Businesses in Santa Clara County are responsible for taking steps to protect the health of their workers and customers. All businesses and workplaces in Santa Clara County are subject to the requirements in Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations, or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard, and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements. Most businesses are no longer required by law to report COVID-19 cases. However, businesses can voluntarily report COVID-19 cases to the Public Health Department through the Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking (SPOT).

      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 and get tested right away if they develop COVID-19 symptoms while at the worksite.

      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.


      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 See Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations for more information on employer requirements related to COVID-19 testing.

      • 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. Consider continuing isolation and retesting in 1-2 days if you test negative with an antigen test, especially if your first test was during the first 1-2 days after symptoms began. If new symptoms develop, isolate and get tested again.
      • 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 COVID-19 Guidelines for the General Public.

      In the event a worker tests positive for COVID-19, employers must follow the requirements outlined in Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations.


      Step 1: Provide instructions to the COVID-19-positive worker and any close contacts

      Work Exclusion & Isolation Period

      Non-high-risk, non-congregate settings: The COVID-19 positive worker must be sent home immediately and instructed to isolate. Advise all positive, symptomatic, or exposed workers who had close contact with the COVID-19 positive worker to follow COVID-19 Guidelines for the General Public

      The County of Santa Clara discourages employers from requiring a medical note from a doctor or healthcare provider for clearance to return to work after an employee has COVID-19. Employees are no longer considered contagious when isolation guidelines have been met. 

      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 the CDC's Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Homeless Service Sites and in Correctional and Detention Facilities.

      Note: In the workplace, employers are subject to Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard (PDF), and should consult those regulations for additional applicable rquirementsincluding requirements related to testing and masking in the workplace

      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 and wear a mask for 10 days after the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work.


      Step 2: 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 3: Preventing Workplace COVID-19 Transmission

      Employers must follow all Cal/OSHA requirements for preventing workplace COVID-19 transmission.

      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, a County Health Order Requiring Use of Face Coverings in Higher-Risk Settings, and Cal/OSHA.

      Businesses are also recommended to encourage COVID-19 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 6 months and up are eligible for vaccination. More information about available vaccines and how to access them can be found at

        A worksite outbreak is defined by CDPH as 3 or more cases at a worksite within a 14-day period. See Cal/OSHA requirements on responding to outbreaks.

        As of January 1, 2023, employers in non-healthcare settings are no longer required to report COVID-19 outbreaks among staff to the Public Health Department.

        For more information on COVID-19-related requirements for businesses and employers in non-healthcare settings, refer to Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations.


        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.

        Refer to Cal/OSHA for more on testing obligations for employers.

        For more information on COVID-19 testing, visit


        Additional Modifications to Prevent Transmission During Outbreaks:

        During an outbreak, additional layers of protection may be needed to halt transmission. It is important to review internal COVID-19 response plans, identify ongoing COVID-19 hazards at the workplace, and determine what additional mitigation steps may be needed.

        See related Guidance for Ventilation and Air Filtration Systems in the Guidance for Businesses tab.

        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].

        As of January 1, 2023, employers in non-high-risk settings are no longer required to report COVID-19 cases or outbreaks to the Public Health Department. All case and outbreak reporting via SPOT is now voluntary for these employers. CDPH defines a worksite outbreak as 3 or more cases reported in a workplace within a 14-day period.

        Employers in healthcare settings are still required to submit information for all COVID-19 cases at the worksite to SPOT. For more information on case reporting for healthcare settings or other high-risk, congregate settings, see the COVID-19 Resources for Providers webpage.


        Submitting COVID-19 Case Information to SPOT

        • If you do NOT have an existing SPOT account linked to the location you are reporting for, submit a SPOT Intake Form to report case information. You will not be registered as a new SPOT user at this time. Submit another Intake Form to report additional cases if reporting for the same outbreak.
        • If you have an existing SPOT account linked to the location you are reporting for, you may report case information by logging in to SPOT and reporting cases directly to the Location Account.

        The information reported will remain confidential and does not affect immigration status.

        If a SPOT Intake Form was submitted, the submitter will receive a confirmation email from the Public Health Department that the form(s) were received. If cases were reported directly to a Location Account in SPOT, case records will be visible.

        For more information, see SPOT Reporting Overview and SPOT Help and Training Material. For technical assistance with SPOT (e.g., login or password assistance), please contact the SPOT Help Desk at [email protected] or call (916) 520-1619.


        Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking (SPOT)

          ​The following government agencies have developed guidance to help with planning efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.​

          California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

          California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA)

          Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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


            • The Labor & Workforce Development Agency provides information on paid sick leave, disability and unemployment insurance, workplace health and safety guidance, and employer assistance.
            • 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 resources for employers who anticipate a reduction of work hours, or potential closure or layoffs as a result of COVID-19.
            • 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.
            • Multiple fact sheets relating to COVID-19 in the workplace are available on Legal Aid at Work’s website.

              Visit the County's COVID-19 Resource Directory webpage.

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