Employment Law Bulletin | May 27, 2020

Sonoma County Employers Required to Use SoCo COVID-19 Check App Starting June 1, 2020

On May 22, 2020, the Sonoma County Public Health Officer issued Amendment No. 3 to its Public Health Order (the “Order) requiring all employees to perform a self-check for COVID-19 symptoms, including a temperature check, before reporting to a worksite or other assignment away from their residence.

In addition to preparing, posting and implementing a Social Distancing Protocol at all facilities operating in Sonoma County, starting June 1, 2020, all businesses operating in Sonoma County must also ensure that all employees use the free SoCo COVID Check Application (the “App”) to perform self-checks for COVID-19 symptoms before reporting to the worksite or other assignment away from their residence.  The App requires the employee to answer a series of questions about whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, including a temperature higher than 100.4, or have been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Employees must answer the questions and, if cleared, show the employer the final screen that indicates that the employee is cleared to work.  If the employee is not cleared, the App advises the employee to contact their primary care provider to discuss their symptoms and get clearance to work.  According to the May 22 Order, employees who are working from home do not have to perform the checks.  Further, employers are not required to take employee temperatures, but can elect to do so voluntarily provided employee privacy rights and medical information are adequately protected.

The Order allows businesses to use an alternative system to the App as long as it meets the same purpose of employee and employer assessments and allows the electronic reporting of equivalent data to be reported to the County without revealing personally identifiable information.  However, an employer who chooses to use an alternative system will need to take on the additional legal responsibilities associated with collecting and retaining employee medical information, as opposed to the App obtaining this information confidentially.  As with employer-implemented temperature taking, employers should be prepared to ensure the protection of employee privacy rights and be well-versed on the handling of employee medical information if using an alternative system.
It is unclear how compliance with the use of the App will be enforced by Sonoma County.  However, it is important to remember that compliance with local and state orders as well as CDC guidelines is a defensive best practice in the ugly event COVID-19 spreads at your business.

Social Distancing Protocol Template:  https://socoemergency.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Appendix-A_05-01-2020extended.pdf

SoCo COVID-19 Check App:
Apple IOS version is on the Apple App store

Android version is on Google Play Store

If you need help implementing the SoCo COVID-19 Check App or evaluating an alternative system for use in your workplace, please reach out to an SMT employment law attorney.

Kari Brown

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Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP
Employment Law Group

Jan Gabrielson Tansil  | Lisa Ann Hilario | Kari Brown