Santa Clara County health officials say businesses are now required to determine the vaccination status of employees coming back to the office.
The announcement Tuesday came as Santa Clara County shifts into the least restrictive yellow tier under the state's pandemic reopening system.
Workers are now allowed to return to the office while Santa Clara County is under the yellow tier, but local health officials are adding a twist. The county is now mandating businesses track the vaccination status of each worker, who will be required to fill out a form within two weeks.
While some other states have outlawed the practice, California allows businesses to ask for vaccination status -- like for sports events or concerts.
In fact, in the South Bay, businesses are required to.
"Our new order ensures everyone is safe while employers determine the vaccination status of their workers, and while we continue to get even more of our residents vaccinated," Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said.
If an employee is not vaccinated or will not disclose to their employer, they must quarantine if they have a close COVID contact.
Mask use is still a must for everyone. Some are also questioning the county if the new rule is in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
"That would not prevent, in my opinion, an employer from asking their employees 'Are you vaccinated?'" said Don Polden, a Santa Clara University law professor.
Polden said companies could even let employees go who refuse to get vaccinated, but would likely need to try for accomodations first.
Santa Clara County wants to make it clear for workers this is not a vaccine mandate -- although its top attorney said in general, businesses can require employees to be vaccinated before returning to the office.