New Bill Seeks to Impose Statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for All Employees and Contractors
On February 10, 2022, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks introduced Assembly Bill 1993 (“AB 1993”), which would impose COVID-19 vaccination requirements on virtually all employees and independent contractors working in California, regardless of employer/company size.
AB 1993 would mandate that all employers require all of their employees and independent contractors to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. An individual would be considered “vaccinated against COVID-19” if they can show proof of either: (1) being “fully vaccinated” with a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization or (2) having received one dose of an approved two-dose vaccine, and receiving the second dose within 45 days of the first. AB 1993’s definition of “vaccinated against COVID-19” does not address booster shots or other additional doses.
Consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination statutes, AB 1993 establishes two narrow exceptions to the vaccination requirement for individuals who cannot be vaccinated due to (1) a medical condition or disability or (2) a sincerely held religious belief, “subject to verification thereof.” However, AB 1993 does not explain how an employer would go about verifying whether these exceptions apply—i.e., what sort of documentation would be required—but rather provides that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing shall consult with the State Department of Public Health and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to provide guidance about what constitutes a medical condition, disability, or sincerely held religious belief for purposes of the carve-out.
If passed in its current form, AB 1993 would require that employers affirm compliance as to each employee on January 1, 2023. However, the bill also prohibits employers from retaining proof of employees’ vaccination status without the employees’ or contractors’ authorization. Thus, in the event that any employees or contractors refuse to provide such authorization, it is unclear how any employer could hope to comply. As of the date of this posting, AB 1993 is pending in committee. We will continue to monitor its progress.