Governor Murphy Issues Worker Protections Executive Order

Today, October 28, 2020, in response to months of advocates’ work, Governor Murphy signed a Worker Protections Executive Order. Despite workers getting sick and even dying, the federal government has only issued recommendations,  placing responsibility with the Governor to step up to ensure New Jersey workers’ health and safety from COVID-19 hazards.

The Worker Protections EO sets enforceable standards that virtually all employers must follow to protect their employees during the pandemic. These baseline standards include allowing proper social distancing, masks, sanitization, breaks for hand washing, notification of potential exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite, and following the requirements of applicable paid leave laws.

The Executive Order, which goes into effect on November 5th, mandates private and public employers implement uniform health and safety standards to protect all workers against the coronavirus, including:

Workers to keep at least 6 feet from each other “to the maximum extent possible.”
Workers and visitors to wear a face mask, with limited exceptions.
Employers to provide masks to workers at the company’s expense.
Employers to provide workers, customers, and visitors with sanitizing materials at the company’s expense.
Employers to conduct daily health checks of workers, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, and more.
Employers to notify workers when there is possible exposure to the virus.
Employers to provide workers with breaks throughout the day to wash their hands.
Employers to routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched areas in accordance to state and federal guidelines.

The full EO can be read here.

The New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) will launch a new webpage to field complaints from workers. The DOL and the Department of Health will both be able to investigate and enforce the EO. The state is also investing $400,000 in trainings so that workers can identify COVID-19 related workplace health and safety hazards and have the tools to be able to speak up when violations of the EO are not resolved by their employers.

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