On February 10, 2022, Assemblywoman 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 require all employers to require all their employees and independent contractors to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. A person would be considered “vaccinated against COVID-19” if they can prove either: (1) that they are “fully vaccinated” with a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization or ( 2) she has received one dose of an approved two-dose vaccine and is receiving the second dose within 45 days of the first. AB’s 1993 definition of “vaccinated against COVID-19” does not address booster shots or other additional doses.
Consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, 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) of sincere 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 type documentation would be required – but instead provides that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing will consult with the state Department of Public Health and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to provide guidance on what constitutes a medical condition, disability or sincere religious belief for the purpose of exclusion.
If passed in its current form, AB 1993 would require employers to confirm every employee’s compliance by January 1, 2023. However, the bill also prohibits employers from keeping proof of employees’ vaccination status without permission. employees or subcontractors. Thus, in the event that employees or contractors refuse to provide such authorization, it is unclear how an employer could hope to comply. As of the date of this posting, AB 1993 is pending in committee. We will continue to follow its evolution.