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Governor Walz is extending the COVID-19 peacetime emergency in Minnesota on October 12, 2020, meaning the emergency will extend into November. Here’s a refresher on all the policies impacting businesses and employers throughout the peacetime emergency in Minnesota.

COVID-19 Preparedness Plans

All businesses must have COVID-19 Preparedness Plans outlining the safety measures they are taking to ensure the safety of workers and other individuals in the workplace. These plans must include policies that require sick employees to stay home, social distancing rules, disinfecting / cleaning protocols, building ventilation protocols, face covering requirements, and delivery and drop-off/pick-up procedures. Employees must be notified of and trained on the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. Businesses in certain industries have additional safety standards with which they must adhere.

Work from Home When Possible

Work from home is still mandated whenever possible. If your employee can work from home, you should require them to do so. If there is some ambiguity as to whether your employee can work from home—for example, the employee is more efficient in the office or the employee can’t perform all of their required duties from home—work with your employee and collaborate to find a workable solution. Teleworking arrangements can be an effective accommodation for employees with disabilities, as well.

Mandatory Face Coverings

Employers must require employees and individuals visiting the workplace to wear face coverings while inside. However, individuals with disabilities that prevent them from wearing face coverings are exempt, and there are certain situations where employees may remove their mask, such as when they are working alone in an enclosed space or when they are driving a vehicle alone.

Social Distancing Policies

Employers must develop social distancing policies and protocols through their COVID-19 Preparedness Plans, but they should also take efforts to ensure employees are complying. Staggering start times, rearranging work spaces, limiting the number of employees in the office, and disciplining employees who fail to comply are simple ways employers can ensure their social distancing protocols are effective.

What about everywhere else?

All fifty states have some form of an active COVID-19 emergency order in place, but employers’ legal obligations differ from state to state, and sometimes even between cities and counties within each state. However, all employers are obligated to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and there is no exception during a pandemic. Employers in all fifty states must undergo efforts to maintain a safe workplace and accommodate employees with disabilities, including those affected by COVID-19.

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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Kevin M. Mosher

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