New Jersey Governor Murphy Issues COVID-19 Health and Safety Order
On October 27, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 192 to provide mandatory health and safety standards to protect New Jersey workers physically present in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order also calls for compliance and safety training for employers and employees.
The Executive Order mandates the following, effective 6:00 am on November 5, 2020.
Workplace Health and Safety Standards
The Executive Order requires both private and public sector employers, including non-profits and governmental/educational entities, to follow health and safety protocols that will serve to protect their in-person workforces. Protocols in the Order require employers to:
- Mandate that individuals at the worksite maintain at least six feet of distance from one another to the maximum extent possible, including but not limited to: during worksite meetings, orientations and similar activities that would traditionally require individuals to be present in a single room or space and in close proximity; in common areas such as restrooms and breakrooms; and when individuals are entering and exiting the workplace. Where the nature of an employee’s work or the work area does not allow for six feet of distance to be maintained at all times, employers shall ensure that each such employee wears a mask (additional information on this below) and shall install physical barriers between workstations wherever possible.
- Require employees, customers, visitors, and other individuals entering the worksite to wear cloth or disposable face masks while on the premises, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, except where the individual is under two years of age or where it is impracticable for an individual to wear a face mask, such as when the individual is eating or drinking or where a service being provided by the employer cannot be performed on an individual who is wearing a mask. There are limited exceptions to the masking requirement, including where employees are alone in a walled office and where employees may be entitled to reasonable accommodation under state or federal law. Employers must supply masks, at the employer’s expense.
- Provide approved sanitization materials to employees and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
- Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide sufficient break time for that purpose;
- Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with Department of Health (DOH) and CDC guidelines;
- Conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, prior to each shift, consistent with CDC guidance;
- Exclude sick employees from the workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws; and
- Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite.
Collaborative enforcement mechanism to address complaints
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) will support the DOH’s efforts to address worker complaints from their employers. NJDOL’s roles will include establishing an intake form on the NJDOL website to receive complaints and developing an investigation and inspection protocol to review complaints.
Training program to inform workers of their rights and to encourage employer compliance
The Executive Order also directs NJDOL to provide compliance and safety training for employers and employees. The department will provide materials to inform workers of their rights and businesses of their obligations as well as coordinate with workforce training partners to create and provide training.
When in doubt about the appropriate course of action in complying with this Executive Order, employers should consult with experienced human resources professionals and/or labor and employment counsel. For MEA members, the Hotline and a Member Legal Services attorney are available to provide this assistance.
Amy G. McAndrew, Esquire
Director of Legal and Compliance Services
MidAtlantic Employers’ Association
*This Alert is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.