CEMA Voice - January 10, 2022
Jan 10, 2022

Health Orders/Booster Mandates

CEMA members, the County issued a memo on January 4th (attached) detailing how the County will comply with recent state and local health orders.  On December 22nd, the California Public Health Officer issued this updated health order mandating booster shots for employees in healthcare/residential settings.  On December 28th, the County Public Health Officer issued an updated public health order which impacts and effectively restricts vaccine mandate exemptions in health care facilities.  In the January 4th County memo, the booster mandate was extended to all County employees, regardless of healthcare status or not.  However, the restrictions to what exemptions may be granted only apply to employees in healthcare facilities at this time.

The changes impacting workers in healthcare facilities are the result of both the state and local health orders.  The County is obligated to follow the orders and only the potential impacts of the orders are subject to bargaining with unions.  This differs from the original County vaccine mandate policy which was consistent with CDC guidance at the time, but was not based upon state or local health orders (there was later a state mandate for healthcare workers to be vaccinated).

How are members affected?

All employees (without approved vaccine mandate exemptions) will be required to be fully vaccinated (now defined to include booster shots) by January 24th.  For employees who are not yet eligible for booster shots due to recent vaccination, they will need to be boosted when eligible.  If you did not previously submit a vaccine mandate exemption and wish to do so now, you are able to do so as a result of the booster mandate.  Be aware, there will likely be a very high level of scrutiny for any religious exemption requests being made in response to the booster shot mandate but which were not asserted prior to the original mandate.  CEMA would expect to see few of these approved.  However, for those members who had serious health reactions to the initial vaccine course, medical exemptions from the booster mandate can be requested.  Follow the same process for requesting an exemption as was used for the initial mandate.

Healthcare Facility Workers with Exemptions will be the most impacted by these changes.  As part of the last vaccine mandate rollout, the County defined all of its positions as either low, medium, or high risk to the public.  This rating was based upon how much risk the position posed to the public by having an unvaccinated employee work in that position—these determinations were made by County Counsel and agency heads with varying, unclear criteria.  This was the County’s own internal system they devised for granting accommodations in response to vaccine mandate exemptions.  For those in high risk positions, the only accommodation was to find another position available in the County.  Medium and Low risk positions could have accommodations of increased masking and testing.

This health order will effectively move many of those previously classified low and medium risk positions into the high risk category.  The key definition in the order is the “healthcare facility”.  It’s not yet clear how this will be implemented at a mixed campus like VMC where some buildings serve no patient care function and some positions have no need to go to a patient care area.  County Counsel is re-reviewing positions with departments and members with exemptions should be learning soon if their position will now be treated as high risk.  Anyone with occasional need to be in patient care areas should anticipate being classified as high risk.  In meeting with ESA, CEMA has pushed for a more robust accommodation process than we saw in the first round of vaccine mandates, including determination of whether positions can be accommodated with office changes and more telework.

2022 Classification Study Window

We’re moving into the second year of the new classification study process introduced in CEMA’s current contract.  As a reminder, this new process (Section 2.7 in CEMA’s MOA) allows CEMA to submit up to 30 classification studies per year for study.  Those classification studies are guaranteed a 1 year turn around time.  This differs from the previous process which allowed an indeterminate number of studies but which was taking on average 3+ years for completion.

Classification studies are a way to address the following issues:

  1. If your classification is paid below the market rate (as compared to other nearby counties, public sector salary info can be found at www.transparentcalifornia.com or the local County website/job database).
  2. If you are performing the duties you are performing are not described by your current job classification/scope but they fit another job classification (IE, I’m classified as a financial analyst but I’m performing data analyst work and not financial analyst work). 
  3. If you’re doing work outside your scope and a new classification needs to be created to describe it.
  4. Your job classification has taken on additional duties as the industry has changed and it is no longer accurately described by the job description.

We will be repeating the same process for consideration classification study applications that we did last year.  The timeline is as follows:

By January 31, 2022: submit your classification study application to

February-March 2022: CEMA’s classification committee will review the applications and meet with applicants as appropriate to provide feedback and edits to strengthen applications. 

By March 31, 2022: Approved applications are submitted to ESA.

April 2022: CEMA and ESA will meet to finalize the list of classification studies to be conducted in 2022.

If you are requesting a classification study specific to you, (you think you’re inappropriately classified for example) you will need to submit your own application.  If you are requesting a salary review of your classification then only one application is necessary.

If you would like to apply for study, please complete the attached Blank PCQ either by yourself or with coworkers who will also be covered by the study.  You can then submit the form to  classificationstudy@sccema.org.  Please submit by January 31 for consideration. 

You can review the following CEMA training from last year which explains what makes a strong classification study and describes the process and timeline in greater detail: https://youtu.be/MtEPsVacTBM.  If you have additional questions on the classification study process or would like to review the potential merit of an application, please reach out to your CEMA rep.

Sick Time Off (STO) Cash Out Requests

Here is a reminder that the Sick Time Off (STO) cash out window opened on January 1, 2022 and will close on January 31, 2022. Approved STO cash out requests will be issued on the February 25, 2022 paycheck.

Go to https://stocashout.sccgov.org/STOCashoutRequestForm/RequestCheck to submit your STO cash out request by January 31, 2022. If you have any questions about this form and/or eligibility, please email stocashout@esa.sccgov.org or contact Staci Bjerk at (408) 299-5859.