On October 28, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order addressing health and safety requirements for New Jersey employers that require or permit their workers to be physically present in the office. The Order supplements other guidance that was previously issued for certain industries – including retail, gyms and fitness centers, and child care.

Below is a brief summary of what New Jersey employers need to know about the Order.

Minimum Health and Safety Protocols.

Beginning on Thursday, November 5, all employers that require or permit their workers to be physically present in the office to perform work must, at minimum, abide by the following requirements:

  • Physical Distancing – Employers must require that individuals maintain at least six feet of distance from one another to the maximum extent possible, including but not limited to during meetings, in common areas such as restrooms and breakrooms, and when individuals are entering and exiting the workplace. If the nature of the work does not allow six feet of distance to be maintained, employers must ensure that employees wear face coverings and install physical barriers whenever possible.
  • Face Coverings – Employers must require employees, visitors, and customers two years of age and older to wear face coverings, except when: (1) employees are at their workstations and are more than six feet apart from other individuals, (2) individuals are alone in a walled office, or (3) doing so is impracticable due to the nature of the business. Employers must provide face coverings at no cost to employees. The Order also requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees, customers, and visitors who cannot wear a mask because of a disability.
  • Sanitation Materials – Employers must provide sanitation materials – such as hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and sanitizing wipes that are approved by the EPA for COVID-19 – at no cost to employees, customers, and visitors.
  • Hand Hygiene – Employers must ensure that employees practice regular hand hygiene and provide employees with: (1) break times for repeated handwashing throughout the workday, and (2) access to adequate hand washing facilities.
  • Cleaning – Employers must clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines.
  • Daily Health Checks – Prior to each shift, employers must conduct daily health checks of employees, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires. The Order does not explicitly require health checks for customers and visitors.
  • COVID-19 Cases in the Workplace – Employers must immediately separate and send home employees who appear to have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Employers must also: (1) promptly notify all employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite in accordance with the confidentiality requirements under Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable law, and (2) clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Penalties for Noncompliance.

The Order authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to establish a mechanism to receive and investigate complaints of noncompliance with the Order. Penalties for violations include imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. The Order also empowers the Commissioner to order businesses to close in the event of noncompliance.

Despite these potential penalties, the Order contains a couple of protections for employers. First, employers must be provided with an opportunity to correct alleged or confirmed violations. The Order also expressly states that it does not create a private right of action by employees for violation of the Order.

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The Order authorizes the Department of Health to impose additional health and safety standards relevant to COVID-19 on employers. Proskauer’s team is closely monitoring guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.

Photo of Alex Downie Alex Downie

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned…

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as the executive editor of the Virginia Law & Business Review. He also volunteered for the school’s employment law clinic, where he assisted with a variety of employment-related matters ranging from employment discrimination to wage and hour disputes.