This week Governor Murphy signed a sweeping Executive Order to address the state’s spiking coronavirus cases. Beginning November 5, Executive Order 192 will affect almost all workplaces including large and small businesses, government entities, and non-profits.
From providing free masks and hand sanitizer to ensuring a socially distanced workplace, there is much for you to know. McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. is committed to making sure employers understand what is required to provide a safe environment and employees know their rights. Here are the highlights.
- Employers must place employees at least six feet apart from one another. This includes during meetings, in restrooms and in breakrooms.
- If employees cannot be physically distanced, employers must require employees to wear masks and the employer must erect physical barriers between workstations.
Masks for Employees
- Employees must wear a mask when entering a worksite.
- Employees can remove their masks if they work at a workstation more than six feet away from someone or they are alone in a walled off office.
- Employers must make available, at their expense, masks for employees. However, an employee can wear their own masks if they desire.
- Employers can deny entry to an employee who refuses to wear a mask unless the refusal violates state or federal law. For example, if the person has a disability, an employer may be required to provide the employee with a reasonable accommodation unless it creates an undue hardship for the employer. An employer can ask the employee for medical documentation to support their disability claim.
Masks for Visitors/Customers/Clients
- Employers must require employees, visitors and customers to wear masks when coming on premises. There are two exceptions: if the visitor is under 2 or when it is not practical to wear a mask. For example, someone does not need to wear a mask when they are eating or drinking or receiving a service that cannot be performed with a mask on.
- Employers can deny entrance to its workplace to any visitor who refuses to wear a mask. If a visitor says they have a disability and cannot wear a mask, the employer may be required to provide them with a reasonable accommodation if it does not place an undue burden on them. An employer cannot require a visitor to provide medical documentation of their disability unless required by state or federal law.
- An employer is required to provide sanitation materials such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. The employer must pay for the cost of these items. If you are a business that has been passing on these costs to your customers, this may affect you.
- An employer is required to ensure that employees are practicing routine handwashing. This means providing employees breaks throughout the workday to wash their hands and providing access to handwashing facilities. If gloves are required at the work site, the employer must provide the gloves.
- Employers must ensure that high-touch areas like countertops, doorknobs, and restrooms are routinely cleaned.
Daily Health Checks
- Prior to each shift, employers are required to conduct daily health checks of their employees to screen for potential COVID symptoms. This can include temperature checks, self-assessment checklists and health questionnaires.
- If an employee appears to have COVID symptoms or answers positively to the daily health check, the employer must immediately send the employee home. The employer must promptly notify all employees of any known exposure at the worksite. Due to confidentiality laws, the employer cannot disclose the name of the employee.
- If the employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, the employer is required to clean and disinfect the worksite pursuant to CDC guidelines.
Enforcement and Training
The Executive Order gives the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) authority to enforce compliance. Employees can file a complaint with them which may lead to an investigation and workplace inspection.
DOLW is also required to provide compliance and safety training for employers and employees and will provide materials to inform workers of their rights and employers of their obligations.
Controlling the surge of Covid-19 cases will continue to be a top priority going into the new year. The situation is fluid and federal and state authorities are releasing new requirements and guidance on a daily basis. McOmber McOmber & Luber is on top of the latest developments and we are here to help you through these challenging times.
If you are an employer that is concerned about complying with the Governor’s latest Executive Order or other COVID-19 requirements or you are an employee that is concerned about workplace safety, McOmber McOmber & Luber is here for you. Please call our office in Red Bank, New Jersey at 732-842-6500, our Newark, New Jersey office at 973-878-9040, or our Marlton, New Jersey office at 856-985-9800 to find out more.