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New Jersey Implements Mandatory Health and Safety Protocols in the Workplace to Curb the Spread of COVID-19

Publisher: Day Pitney Employment and Labor Quarterly Update
October 30, 2020
Day Pitney Author(s) Michael T. Bissinger Laura H. Schuman

On October 28, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 192 (Order), which becomes effective November 5 at 6:00 a.m. This Order requires every New Jersey employer (with only a few limited and defined exceptions) to have the following health and safety measures in place for all individuals who are present at the workplace:

  • Six-foot distancing at all times, and where that is not possible, physical barriers between employee workspaces.
  • Employers, at their expense, must provide masks to all employees.
  • All persons, including employees, customers, visitors, and anyone else entering the workplace, must wear a face mask while on the premises. Exceptions include when doing so is impractical (such as when eating, drinking, or receiving a service for which a mask would present an unworkable obstacle), when the individual cannot wear a mask due to a disability, when the person is under two years old, or when the employee is at a workstation more than six feet from any other person or alone in a walled office. Employees who cannot wear a mask due to a disability may seek a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), unless it would present an undue hardship. Employers may require medical documentation from employees to support such claims. Employers may deny entry to any person refusing to wear a mask in the workplace (unless otherwise prohibited by federal or state law) unless based on a disability. Employers cannot request medical documentation from customers or visitors to substantiate their medical condition(s), but they may be required to offer goods or services via a reasonable accommodation in lieu of allowing the person to physically enter the workplace.
  • Employers must provide EPA-approved sanitization materials and wipes to all persons who enter the workplace.
  • Employers must ensure that employees adhere to regular hand hygiene, and provide break time and adequate facilities for repeated handwashing throughout the workday. Employers may also adopt a policy that requires employees to wear gloves (at the employer's expense) in addition to handwashing requirements.
  • Employers must routinely clean and disinfect all "high touch" areas (restrooms, door knobs, etc.) in accordance with Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
  • Where an employee at the workplace has been diagnosed with COVID-19, employers must implement additional cleaning and disinfection protocols in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  • Before each shift, employers must conduct a health check of employees. This may include questionnaires, temperature checks, visual symptom checks, and/or self-assessment checklists, and these health checks should remain consistent with the latest CDC guidance on COVID-19 symptoms. Employers must also abide by all confidentiality provisions of the ADA, NJLAD, and all other applicable laws in conjunction with guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.
  • Employers must keep sick employees out of the workplace and allow them to utilize all entitlements to paid or unpaid time including, but not limited to, those under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law and the New Jersey Family Leave Act.
  • Employers must promptly notify employees of any known exposure in the workplace, while also ensuring confidentiality consistent with the ADA, state law, and EEOC guidance.

The New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will oversee the investigation and compliance aspects of this Order. This will include a process for complaints, workplace inspections, and investigations. Notably, the penalties that may be imposed for noncompliance include a shutdown of the business by the Commissioner of the Department of Health.

The full text of Executive Order No. 192 is available here.

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For more Day Pitney alerts and articles related to the impact of COVID-19, as well as information from other reliable sources, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

COVID-19 DISCLAIMER: As you are aware, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, things are changing quickly and the effect, enforceability and interpretation of laws may be affected by future events. The material set forth in this document is not an unequivocal statement of law, but instead represents our best interpretation of where things stand as of the date of first publication. We have not attempted to address the potential impacts of all local, state and federal orders that may have been issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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