As part of New Jersey’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, new workplace mandates take effect on Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 6 a.m. Saying that he wants to ensure the heath and safety of New Jersey’s workforce, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 192 (EO 192) on October 28 requiring employers to abide by certain health standards.
Gov. Murphy’s mandate applies to both public and private sector workplaces and directs the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) to establish mechanisms to deal with reports of noncompliance.
EO 192 Workplace Standards
Employers that require or permit all of part of their workforce to be physically present at a worksite will now have to follow EO 192 protocols including:
- Daily health checks must be conducted prior to each shift in accordance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and includes temperature checks, visual symptom checking, health questionnaires and self-assessment checking.
- Individuals must remain 6 feet apart from one another including meetings and common areas. If workspace does not allow for 6 feet of space, employers must install physical barriers.
- Anyone who enters the workplace (including employees, customers and visitors), must wear a mask in accordance with CDC guidelines. Exceptions are for eating, drinking and children under the age of 2. Employees may be permitted to remove masks when they are in workstations more than six feet from other individuals or alone in a walled office.
- Employers must provide sanitation materials at the employer’s expense including hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) and sanitizing wipes.
- If employers want employees to wear gloves, they must be provided at the employer’s expense.
- All high-touch areas must be routinely cleaned and disinfected in accordance with Department of Health and CDC guidelines.
- Employees with COVID-19 symptoms must be sent home and employers are subject to the NJ Earned Sick Leave Act.
- If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, all employees must be promptly notified of possible exposure, while maintaining the confidentiality of the infected individual and the worksite must be cleaned and disinfected.
EO 192 Exclusions
Limited exclusions to EO 192 mandates apply for specified business operations when the protocols interfere with operational duties – such as first responders, health care personnel and law enforcement. In addition, exceptions are provided for U.S. governmental offices and religious institutions if doing so would prohibit their free exercise of religion.
Reaction from Industry
EO 192 is not without controversy. Some industry groups pushed back at the mandate citing additional financial costs to already struggling businesses. New Jersey Business and Industry Association President and CEO Michele Sierkerka explained, “We once again urge Gov. Murphy and our policymakers to put a pause on any further mandates, recognizing that New Jersey’s business climate was already consistently ranked among the worst in the nation pre-COVID because of the excessive cost of doing business. Further mandates only exacerbate that.”
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