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New Jersey Establishes COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidelines for All Employers, with Reporting Mechanism and Significant Potential Penalties

Employee Benefit Plan Review December 2020

Jennifer Barna and Maxine Neuhauser, attorneys in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Newark office, authored an article in the Employee Benefit Plan Review, titled “New Jersey Establishes COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidelines for All Employers, with Reporting Mechanism and Significant Potential Penalties.”

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has issued a series of executive orders with industry-specific mandates and guidelines governing business reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic and return-to-work protocols. Recognizing that a significant portion of the state’s workforce has returned to in-person work, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 1921 (“EO 192” or “the Order”), establishing broad health and safety measures applicable to all employers that permit or require their employees to be physically present at work in New Jersey and that may have on-site customers or other visitors. The Order became effective at 6:00 p.m. on November 5, 2020.

Notably, EO 192 not only identifies the required safety protocols but also authorizes the creation of a mechanism for reporting and investigating noncompliance, as well as provides for potential penalties for noncompliance. The Order does not, however, change the portion of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107 that requires employers to accommodate telework and work-from-home arrangements whenever practicable.

THE SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

EO 192 rescinds paragraph 2(c) of Executive Order 142, which limited workgroups to fewer than 10 people, but otherwise expressly “supplements” the requirements outlined in prior executive orders or administrative orders (or similar directives) that apply to employers that had resumed operations during the pandemic. EO 192 provides that where an already existing requirement is inconsistent with a safety requirement in EO 192, the previously issued requirement will continue to apply unless otherwise specified.

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