Santa Clara County

Business Owners Must Now Monitor Employees' Vaccination Status

NBC Universal, Inc.

As Santa Clara County enters the least-restrictive yellow tier, many businesses are now facing yet another change; employers need to verify their workers' vaccination status and report it to the county.

Business owners say it's a delicate balancing act that needs to be addressed and handled carefully.

Bryan Matsumoto, co-owner of Ace Hardware store in Los Gatos said he's consulting with attorneys to make sure that he gets the information the county requires without violating his employees' rights.

"We plan to talk to each employee individually and ask them their current vaccine status and go from there," he said.

The clock is ticking for business owners like Matsumoto, as they now have 14 days to determine their employees' vaccination status to the county.

To do so, employees need to fill out a form that asks employees to check one of six boxes ranging from “I am fully vaccinated”  to “I decline to answer whether I’ve been vaccinated.”

Matsumoto told NBC Bay Area he will keep his employees information private and does not plan to ask his 48 workers to show a vaccination card as proof.

The Silicon Valley leadership group says dozens of companies have been calling in asking if its legal to require employees show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

General Counsel Peter Leroe-Munoz said the equal employment opportunity commission states it is.

"They have determined that yes, in California companies may ask about vaccinations and require proof from employees."

However, there are exemptions and accommodations for employees who refuse to be vaccinated for religious or medical reasons.

"If an employer in Santa Clara County is not vaccinated they can still continue to work on the site," Leroe-Munoz said, "but they must be treated with special care, and they must continue to use a face covering and be excluded from contact with the workforce and public.”

Businesses of all sizes face challenges; large corporations must find a way to verify the vaccination status for many employees in just the next two weeks.

On the other hand, smaller businesses may find it difficult to keep vaccinated and unvaccinated employees separated in a small workspace.

"It’s definitely good to go through the checks but as a small business it’s just one other additional bookkeeping task to add to our plate," Leroe-Munoz said.

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