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Covid Protocols

Keeping safe

 

For everyone’s safety during this unusual time, we are being as careful as possible. This means that all sessions are currently conducted virtually, either by phone or video conference. We will be resuming in-person visits with our more local clients as soon as it is clearly safe to do so. In the meantime we are following the Covid-19 Guidelines for the State of NJ.

COVID-19: NJ Rights and Protections for Workplace Health and Safety

Under Executive Order 192, signed October 28, 2020, employers must adhere to certain protocols to protect employees, customers, and others who come into contact with the business, from COVID-19. In addition, they must continue to follow guidelines and directives issued by the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as applicable, for maintaining a clean, safe and healthy work environment.

 

1. Social Distancing

Employers must require that individuals maintain at least six feet of distance from one another to the maximum extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, during meetings, orientations, and similar activities that would normally require people to be together in a single room or space, in close proximity. It also includes common areas such as restrooms and breakrooms, and when people are entering and exiting the worksite.  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 must ensure that each such employee wears a mask in accordance with the face mask requirements described below.

 

2. Face Masks

  • Employers must require that employees, customers, visitors, and other individuals entering the worksite wear cloth or disposable face masks while on the premises, according to CDC recommendations.

  • There are some exceptions to the mask wearing protocols: 

    • Where the individual is under 2 years of age, face masks should not be worn.

    • When impracticable; an individual would not need to wear a mask, for example, when eating or drinking or when receiving a service that requires access to an individual’s face.

 

Face mask requirements specific to employees:

  • When an employee is situated at their workstation and is more than six feet from other individuals at the workplace, or when the individual is alone in a walled office, employers may permit employees to remove their face masks.

  • Employers must provide, at their expense, face masks for their employees.

  • Nothing in Executive Order 192 prevents employees from wearing a surgical-grade mask or other more protective equipment if the employee is already in possession of such equipment, or if the business is already required to provide employees with more protective equipment because the work performed requires stricter protections.

  • Employers may deny any employee entry to the worksite who declines to wear a face mask, except when doing so would violate any state or federal law.

  • Where an employee cannot wear a mask because of a disability, an employer may, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), be required to provide the employee with a reasonable accommodation unless doing so would be an undue burden on the employer’s operations. An employer may require an employee to produce medical documentation supporting the employee’s claim that they are unable to wear a face mask because of a disability.

 

Face mask requirements specific to customers and visitors:

  • Employers may deny any customer or visitor entry to the worksite who declines to wear a face mask, except when doing so would violate state or federal law. For a customer or visitor who declines to wear a mask due to a disability, the employer may be required to provide service or goods via a reasonable accommodation, consistent with the ADA and the NJLAD, unless such accommodation would pose an undue burden on the employer’s operations.

  • If a customer or visitor declines to wear a face mask due to a disability that inhibits such usage, the employer and/or employees may not require the individual to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition, unless production is otherwise required by state or federal law.

 

3. Sanitization

  • Employers must provide employees, customers and visitors with sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, at no cost to those individuals.

  • Hand sanitizers and wipes must be approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or contain at least 60% alcohol. See FDA guidelines on hand sanitizer here.

 

4. Hand Hygiene

  • Employers must ensure that employees practice regular hand hygiene, particularly when employees are interacting with the public, provide employees break time for repeated handwashing during the workday, and provide access to adequate hand washing facilities.

  • If an employer requires employees to wear gloves at the worksite, the employer must provide the gloves to the employee.


 

5. Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Employers must routinely clean and disinfect high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines, particularly in spaces that are accessible to employees, customers, or other individuals, including, but not limited to, restrooms, hand rails, door knobs, other common surfaces, safety equipment, and other frequently touched surfaces including employee-used equipment.

  • After a known or potential exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite, employers must ensure cleaning in compliance with CDC recommendations.


6. Daily Health Checks

  • Prior to each shift, employers must conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checks, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance.

  • Also, using CDC guidance, employers are to stay appraised of the evolving list of COVID-19 related symptoms.

  • Daily health checks of employees must be consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the ADA and other applicable laws, and consistent with any guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the  New Jersey Division on Civil Rights | Main Menu.

  • An example of a daily health screening log is available here.

 

7. In Case of Symptoms or Exposure

  • Employers must immediately physically separate and send home employees who appear to have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 illness upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day.

  • Employers who are subject to the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, New Jersey Family Leave Act, and/or federal leave laws must continue to follow the requirements of the law, including by allowing individuals to use accrued paid and/or job-protected leave in the manner permitted by law, when requiring employees to leave the workplace in accordance with the provisions of Executive Order 192.

  • Employers must promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite, consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the ADA and any other applicable laws, and consistent with guidance from the EEOC.

  • When an employee at the worksite has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the employer must clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines.

  • Under a separate law, it is unlawful for an employer to fire or otherwise punish an employee who requests time off or takes time off of work based on a medical professional’s determination that the employee has, or is likely to have, COVID-19. Learn more about the COVID-19 related anti-discrimination law here. See more information about worker benefits and protections in the tab titled, “I’ve been diagnosed with or exposed to coronavirus and I cannot afford to lose my job or take unpaid time off. Is there any help available?” Learn more about additional employee protection laws, and how to file a complaint, at my work rights.nj.gov.

 

8. Exceptions for Certain Employees

  • The protocols do not apply when they would interfere with the discharge of the operational duties of first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, health care personnel, public health personnel, court personnel, law enforcement and corrections personnel, hazardous materials responders, transit workers, child protection and child welfare personnel, housing and shelter personnel, military employees, and governmental employees engaged in emergency response activities.

  • The measures above do not apply to employees employed by the United States government.

  • Religious institutions are exempt when these measures would prohibit the free exercise of religion.