[UPDATED 3-25-2020 @ 3:23 pm: Lt. Governor Jon Husted reiterated in his remarks to the press that employers who remain open must have a plan to comply with these safety requirements. He also recommended that businesses have a written justification on hand as to why they are Essential Businesses under the Stay At Home Order.]
By Kyle Stroup and Rob Gilmore
For an Ohio business that is an “Essential Businesses or Operation” or “Essential Infrastructure” under the state’s Stay at Home Order to remain open, it must comply with both the Social Distancing Rules and also with Section 18 of the Order, which mandates remote work where possible and not allowing sick employees in the workplace. Non-essential employers should also familiarize themselves with these rules as Lt. Governor Jon Husted stated in a March 24 press conference that he expects non-essential businesses to be subject to these requirements when they reopen.
Businesses must maintain the Social Distancing Rules:
- Maintain at least six-foot distance between individuals,
- As frequently as possible, wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or use hand sanitizer,
- Cover coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands),
- Regularly clean high-touch surfaces, and
- Do not shake hands.
Employees With Symptoms
The order mandates that employers prevent employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus from reporting to work. Those employees who are sent home or self-quarantining will be immediately eligible for Ohio unemployment benefits and may be eligible for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act if the employer is a covered employer.
Employers should direct their employees as follows:
- If a worker experiences symptoms of COVID-19, including but not limited to a fever, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat or cough, the worker should inform his or her supervisor and not report to work.
- Workers who are sick and experiencing symptoms should stay home until:
- they are free of fever (without the use of fever reducing medication) for at least 72 hours (three full days), AND
- symptoms have improved for at least 72 hours (another three full days), AND
- at least seven days have passed since symptoms first began.
- Workers who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should inform their supervisor, not report to work and self-quarantine for 14 days or until receiving negative test results from a COVID-19 test.
Ensuring the Workplace is Clean
Employers are also required to maintain a clean workplace, focusing on reducing possible traces of the virus on surfaces, which is considered a possible transmission method of the virus. Employers need to:
- Frequently perform enhanced environmental cleaning of commonly touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, railings, door handles and doorknobs.
- Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
- Encourage workers to wash their hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or use hand sanitizer as often as possible, especially after coming into contact with a high-touch surface, sneezing or coughing into the hands, or contacting another worker.
To the extent possible, employers are required to limit the number of employees at their facilities and worksites by asking as many workers as possible to work remotely.
If you have any questions about what obligations you may have as an employer under the Order, please contact Rob Gilmore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216.736.7240, Kyle Stroup at email@example.com or 216.736.7231 or any of our Labor & Employment professionals.