The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major shift in travel throughout the country. With government shutdowns, discouragement of nonessential travel and employees working from home, the number of people traveling for business and pleasure has declined. However, the number of people returning to the roads and filling up hotels and motels is slowly increasing due to rising vaccination rates and improved treatments.
If you work at a hotel or motel, you have a right to be protected from COVID-19 and a right to speak out when you feel your employer is not following safety protocols. To help you make this determination, McOmber McOmber & Luber P.C. has compiled the following information for you.
By their nature, hotels and motels are hotspots for spreading virus because guests are sleeping and spending time in rooms. To prevent COVID-19 contamination and spread, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) requires hotels and motels to do the following:
- Ensure every guest room is cleaned and sanitized every day and that the room is provided with an adequate supply of clean towels, sheets and pillowcases and that the towels, sheets and pillowcases are changed no less frequently than once every day.
- Provide employees with sanitization products.
- Ensure all public places and frequently touched placed by guests are cleaned and sanitized every day.
- Ensure every guest room is clean and sanitized prior to the occupancy of a new guest.
- Maintain continuous 24-hour, seven days a week coverage of the front desk by at least one employee and make sure they know how to respond to health inquiries.
- Train employees on the proper use of anti-microbial cleaning products and proper cleaning methods to ensure each guest room and high touch area is sanitary.
Department of Health Executive Directive No. 20-024, Governor Murphy Executive Order 192.
The DOH also recommends that hotel and motel employers follow CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting facilities.
Masks, Hand Washing and Health Screenings
Guidelines Update* (updated 11/30/2021): New Jersey no longer mandates businesses to require face coverings or social distance. However, employers are prohibited from restricting you from wearing a mask and shall not in any way penalize or retaliate against you for doing so. New Jersey Executive Order 242.
To reduce infection rates and keep everyone safe, New Jersey encourages all businesses, including hotels and motels, to take the following safety measures:
- Provide face coverings to employees, customers or visitors free of charge.
- Provide sanitation materials at no cost to employees.
- Provide employees sufficient break time to wash hands.
- Conduct daily health screenings of employees, such as taking employees’ temperatures and asking health questions.
- Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace.
What Do I Do If My Employer is Not Taking Safety Precautions?
If you believe your employer is not following proper safety measures, you can file a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLW) and OSHA. The State has also set up a COVID-19 Information Hub that allows you to file a complaint for COVID-19 violations. You can find that form here.
Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint pursuant to the New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) as well as other state and federal laws.
Hotel and motel employees, especially housekeepers who have to change bedding and clean rooms, are at great risk for contracting COVID-19. That is why it is so important the employers follow state safety requirements. If you are concerned that your employer is not doing enough to keep you safe and/or you have expressed your concerns and fear retaliation, McOmber McOmber & Luber P.C. has experienced lawyers to help you. Please call our office in Red Bank, New Jersey at 732-842-6500, our Marlton, New Jersey office at 856-985-9800, or our Newark, New Jersey office at 973-787-9040 to find out more.
*Previous guidelines (published 4/28/2021): All businesses throughout New Jersey, including hotels and motels are also required to take the following safety measures:
- Employers must provide face coverings to employees free of charge. All employees and guests must wear facemasks. Employees, customers or visitors who refuse to wear facemasks can be declined entry.
- Employers must provide sanitation materials at no cost to employees.
- Employers must give employees sufficient break time to wash hands.
- Prior to each shift, employers should conduct daily health screenings, such as taking employees’ temperatures and asking health questions.
- Employers must promptly notify employees of any known exposure of COVID-19 at the workplace.