On October 28, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an Executive Order (“Order”) requiring employers that require (or permit) their workers to be physically present at the workplace to implement certain health and safety protocols during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Order goes into effect November 5, 2020, and will remain in effect until revoked or modified by the Governor.

Who does the Order apply to?

The Order applies to all employers that require or permit employees to be physically present a New Jersey worksite.

What are the Required Health and Safety Protocols?

The Order requires employers that require or permit their workforce to be physically present at a worksite to abide by the following minimum requirements:

  • Employers must require individuals at the worksite to maintain six feet of distance to the maximum extent possible;
  • Employers must require employees, customers, visitors, and other individuals entering the worksite to wear a cloth or disposable face mask while on the premises, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommendations with limited exceptions;
  • Employers must provide sanitization materials to employees, customers, and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
  • Employers must ensure that employees practice regular hand hygiene and provide employees break time for repeated handwashing and access to handwashing facilities throughout the workday;
  • Employers must routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with the New Jersey Department of Health (“NJ DOH”) and CDC guidelines;
  • Prior to each shift, employers must conduct daily health checks of employees consistent with CDC guidelines and any other applicable laws, including but not limited to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), as well as with guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;
  • Employers must immediately separate and send home employees who appear to have symptoms of COVID-19 illness upon arrival at the worksite or who become sick during the day and they must then clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines following a diagnosis;
  • Employers must promptly notify all employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the ADA and any other applicable laws;
  • Employers must continue to follow guidelines and directives issued by the NJ DOH, the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as applicable, for maintaining a clean, safe and healthy work environment.

Are there any Exceptions to the Order?

Yes, the Order does not apply if it interferes with the duties of first responders, emergency management personnel or 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.

What are the Penalties for Noncompliance?

If employers do not comply with the requirements of the Order, the Commissioner of the NJ DOH may subject the worksite to closure and further penalties may be imposed on employers, including imprisonment and/or fines.

Employer Considerations

Now more than ever, employers need to be careful to monitor and protect against the potential of COVID-19 at the workplace. The California requirements demonstrate the potential for employers to have more legal exposure, which is why we recommend having clear return to work policies and COVID-19 tracking mechanisms in place. The tracking and resource capability of Sequoia’s Return to Work Center can provide a streamlined solution to address these new challenges and help your business more confidently stay compliant. Please reach out to our Sequoia Client Service team to learn more about how Return to Work Center can assist you. 

Additional Resources

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2020 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Lizet Ramirez – Lizet is a Client Compliance Manager for Sequoia One, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Lizet enjoys live music, travel, hiking and spa days.