Workplace regulators recently extended California’s COVID-19 pandemic regulations, including some revisions that could negatively impact the labor shortage. Some business groups have criticized these changes, while organizations supporting workers in the state have supported them.
California is not the only state to adopt COVID-19 workplace safety measures. Other states like Michigan, Virginia and Oregon have enforced their own regulations.
Here’s what these revisions mean for workplace vaccination status in California.
New rule in California changes vaccination requirements
One of the most impactful changes in this set of state revisions is the distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Employees will now be treated the same based on the decision by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board.
The rules are set to last three months. Both unvaccinated and vaccinated employees will be required to avoid their place of work if they come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Before these revisions, the rule was that vaccinated employees could continue to work even if they’ve been exposed to the virus unless they show symptoms. This comes from the assumption that the vaccine will protect them.
The new rule requires exposed, vaccinated and asymptomatic workers to stay home for 14 days, even if they test negative for the virus. If they return to work, they must wear a facial covering and stay 6 feet away from co-workers for those two weeks.
This rule was implemented only a couple of days after California enforced mask-wearing regulations regardless of vaccination status.
These efforts are intended to slow the spread of the virus, especially as people just gathered for the holidays and the omicron variant is running rampant nationwide.
What this rule means for California businesses
The strict revisions implemented in California are expected to worsen the state’s severe labor shortage as blue-collar workers are leaving.
There are a few reasons why people in California are seeking residency elsewhere. California’s population decreased for the first time in over a century in 2020, and it’s expected that this trend will continue.
Businesses will need to follow the new, revised regulations to meet the Cal/OSHA standards. This may present unique challenges for companies in various industries in California, especially those struggling to find enough workers to meet demand.
The shortage of skilled workers in California is expected to continue into the next few years. Businesses will need to find innovative ways to recruit, hire and retain their valuable employees.
How can businesses overcome labor shortages?
There’s no one solution to the labor shortage, but a few steps can be taken to improve the current situation.
Many businesses are looking to digitize at this time, which has shown to be revolutionary for productivity and can help companies accomplish more with the same amount of staff. This is happening during nationwide labor shortages, especially in the energy sector. In fact, 84% of energy employers are experiencing difficulties hiring qualified workers.
Aside from digitization, updating job boards, improving the hiring process, offering employee training and providing better benefits will all play a crucial role in mitigating the shortages.
Because the vaccination distinction is no longer applicable, it’ll be interesting to see how employers change their operations to attract potential employees and what types of benefits packages they offer to make roles seem more worthwhile.
California businesses battling labor shortages and new COVID-19 regulations
The situation happening in California highlights how COVID-19 has and will continue to impact businesses across the country. The pandemic continues to impact communities, and we should expect state guidelines to evolve as time progresses.