New Requirements for New Jersey Employers as COVID-19 Numbers Continue to Rise
Effective November 5, 2020, New Jersey public and private sector employers will have a new set of health and safety mandates to follow if they plan to allow or require employees to perform services at a New Jersey worksite. Although many of the requirements have most likely already been adopted as best practices, failure to adhere to the requirements will now carry fines and penalties for non-compliance including, but not limited to, business closure. An employee complaint system will be implemented for violation reporting. Accordingly, all employers should be mindful of the requirements and ensure immediate implementation.
Executive Order 192 specifically provides for the following:
Physical distancing of at least six feet between all individuals or, if distancing cannot be achieved, the installation of physical barriers;
i) Employer provided masks that must be worn at all times when of at least 6 feet cannot be achieved (accommodations should be provided, if practicable, to anyone with a condition that prevents him or her from being able to wear a mask and documentation supporting the condition may be requested);
ii) Employer provided sanitizers (such as approved hand sanitizers and wipes) and the allowance of additional periods to employees for proper hand washing and sanitizing;
iii) Increased cleaning, especially for high-touch areas such as restrooms, and on common surfaces such as doorknobs and handrails. Cleaning procedures should follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC);
iv) Daily health checks (such as temperature checks, symptom checks, or health questionnaires) in a manner that is left to employer discretion but must be done in accordance with guidance issued by the CDC and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and not violative of laws regarding discrimination, disability or privacy (a screening must be performed before each shift for which an employee is scheduled);
v) Communication to employees of any known exposure to Covid-19 at the worksite (following all privacy laws and EEOC guidance) and thorough disinfectant of the worksite following any known exposure in accordance with CDC guidance;
vi) Any employee exhibiting symptoms must immediately be sent home.
Executive Order 192 exempts certain essential workers to the extent their job functions do not allow for compliance, such as first responders, law enforcement personnel, healthcare personnel, and public health personnel.
Additionally, it should be noted that Executive Order 192 also provides mandates regarding a company’s obligations to all individuals entering their worksite, including the requirement to provide all those entering with a mask and access to sanitizers.
Violators will be subject to fines of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months, and, in some cases, businesses may be ordered to close.
Navigating the requirements imposed on businesses as a result of Covid-19 is a daunting task which has been made even more complex by the fluid nature of the pandemic.