New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order Wednesday that will provide mandatory health and safety standards in an effort to protect all workers, both in the public and private sectors, in New Jersey during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since the start of the pandemic, New Jersey workers across all sectors have risen to the challenges imposed by COVID-19,” Murphy said in a statement. “Yet, the federal government has failed to provide all workers the proper standards and protections that they deserve. Today’s executive order closes that gap to help ensure the health and safety of our workforce during this unprecedented time."
The move is a first in the country, according to state officials.
“With today’s action, New Jersey becomes the only state to leverage its public sector-only jurisdiction to protect workers in the private sector from COVID-19. We now have the essential tools and resources we need to ensure businesses are operating safely, and our economy is moving forward,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said.
The executive order will require both private and public sector employers to follow health and safety protocols that will serve to protect their in-person workforces. The executive order mandates that as of 6 a.m. on Nov. 5, all employers must require individuals at the worksite to maintain at least six feet of distance from others. Additionally, employers must require employees and visitors to wear masks when entering the worksite, with certain exceptions.
As per the executive order, additional protocols require employers to:
- Provide approved sanitization materials to employees and visitors at no cost to them;
- Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide sufficient break time for that purpose;
- Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines;
- Conduct daily health checks prior to each shift, consistent with CDC guidance;
- Exclude sick employees from the workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws; and
- Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite.
The executive order also calls for collaborative enforcement mechanism to address complaints in which the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) will support the Department of Health’s efforts to address worker complaints from their employers.
Additionally, the executive order also directs NJDOL to initiate a training program to inform workers of their rights and to encourage employer compliance. The department will provide materials to inform workers of their rights and businesses of their obligations.
“By protecting New Jerseyans in the workplace, we are lessening the health risks to families and communities. As more people return to work, the high standards we have set today will be critical in maintaining our public health," Asaro-Angelo said.