COVID-19Employment LawJones Waldo NewsSPECIAL EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT NEW EMERGENCY COVID-19 RULES FOR EMPLOYERS

NEW EMERGENCY COVID-19 RULES IMPOSED ON EMPLOYERS: Given recent high COVID-19 case counts and the resulting stress on hospitals, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has issued a new statewide executive order effective today, November 9, 2020. Among other things, the order requires businesses to ensure that employees (and customers/visitors) wear masks at the workplace. The mandate applies to any workplace situation when an employee will not be at least six feet away from someone else who is not in his/her household. At our office, we have interpreted that mandate to mean wear a mask in all common areas (lobby, break room, restroom, copy room, supply room, etc.) regardless of whether or not someone else is there too. The executive order has a list of exceptions, including for those who are disabled and cannot wear a mask as a result (see: New Executive Order). One interesting exception possibly relevant to your business says masks can be removed by anyone who is the “sole occupant of a room, cubicle, or similar enclosure.” This seems to indicate that mask-wearing is not required in individual cubicles or offices unless someone else goes in there too and social distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained. This exception would clearly apply to if, for example, an employee in cubicle 1 is more than six feet apart from his/her neighbor in cubicle 2 while they both are sitting/working in their individual cubicles. If two people share a cubicle or office, they probably should be wearing masks in there unless the cubicle is large enough so that they are 6 feet apart all the time. Although some of the Governor’s new mandates only last for 2 weeks, the mask mandate is in place for the “foreseeable future.” Businesses also have to post appropriate signs about mask-wearing, social distancing, and staying home when sick, and sign examples are provided here (see: General Info on New Executive Order and Required Signs). The Utah Labor Commission is empowered to enforce the emergency rules on employers with fines and possible business license revocation.

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