Thursday, April 30, 2020

Coronavirus Update 4-30-2020: The last and absolutely final (I hope) word on masks in Ohio businesses

Next Saturday (May 9) will mark the (lucky) 13th anniversary of the Ohio Employer Law Blog (NKA the Coronavirus Law Blog). Never did I ever think that I’d have reason to write five different posts in the span of 48 hours on the issue of whether employees are, or are not, required to wear masks or other facial coverings in the workplace. Blogging in the times of coronavirus, however, is certainly unique.

Yesterday, Lt. Governor John Husted provided what I believe (and hope) is the final word on the rules surrounding masks and other face coverings for businesses.

1/ Masks or other face coverings are required for employees while they are working on the job, subject to the following six exceptions.

  1. When the wearing of a mask is prohibited by law or regulation.
  2. When the wearing of a mask is against documented industry best practices.
  3. When the wearing of a mask is not advisable for health purposes.
  4. When the wearing of a mask is a violation of company safety policies.
  5. When an employee is working alone in an enclosed workspace (such as in an enclosed office).
  6. When there exists a practical reason inhibiting an employee from wearing a mask (such as in extreme heat, or when employees need a clear line of communication for safety issues).

If one believes that a business or employee qualifies for one of these exceptions, the business must maintain written documentation and provide it upon request (presumably to a local Department of Health, which will be enforcing these reopening rules).

2/ Masks or other face coverings are recommended for customers and non-employee visitors. It’s up to each individual business whether it chooses to require masks as a condition to a customer or other non-employee visitor from entering the business.

You only have a few days to figure out these mask rules for your employees. Will you provide them? (You should.) If not, will you reimburse employees for their purchase? (You should.) Will you train employees on their proper use? (You should.) Will you discipline employees who are not wearing them? (You should.)

At least we now finally have clarity over what these rules actually are.

* Photo by Adam NieĊ›cioruk on Unsplash