What Mask Mandates Mean for Your Business

Woman Mask Desk

Please visit our COVID-19 resources page with more information for business owners and employees.

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, mask regulations for public spaces are becoming more common in many cities. 

Nextep is here to provide guidance for your business by answering commonly asked questions. You can find more about wearing masks or face coverings from the CDC

We’ve answered a few common questions but it is important to first follow local regulations when determining requirements for your business.

Are my employees required to wear masks or personal protective equipment (PPE) while working? 

Employees should continue to follow their routine procedures for PPE for their job tasks. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings where social distancing is difficult to maintain. 

Our business is not open to the public, do these mandates apply?

First follow local regulations. If your business is able to keep workers at least six feet apart and they aren’t exposed to the public, you can allow your employees to work without masks. Continue to encourage social distancing and consider requiring wearing masks in situations where social distancing isn’t possible. 

What if an employee states they have a health condition preventing them from wearing a face covering or mask?

Consider this a request for accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Requesting a doctor’s note can help verify this. If an employee is not able to comply with mask mandates because of a health condition, determine if there is an available accommodation. For example, having the employee work in an area where there is no interaction with the public or working from home. If there is no alternative option, consider a leave of absence. 

What if an employee refuses to wear a mask while working but has no health condition preventing them from doing so?

Much like with any refusal to follow a workplace rule, you should take normal disciplinary steps. This could mean removing an employee from their duties if wearing a face mask is required. 

Are employers required to pay for employee masks or face coverings?

Depending on your city or state mandate, employers may be required to provide face coverings to employees who have exposure to the public. Check your local regulations.

Can we require a certain style, color, or design of masks or face coverings?

Employers should provide face masks if they want their employees to wear a specific style. Certain states have stipulations for employers who require specific uniforms or dress codes to provide masks to their employees at no cost. 

What about masks at mealtime? 

Since we can’t eat and wear a mask at the same time, ensure employees can keep a good social distance while eating by rearranging your seating options in break rooms. Schedule lunch breaks so they’re staggered and the break room isn’t overcrowded. Provide products for employees to sanitize after using a space or items in the break room. 

My city or state isn’t requiring us to wear masks, but we would like to consider requiring them for our employees. Can we do that?

Yes. Be sure to review the questions listed here when creating the new rule and be prepared for any objections from your workforce. Reach out to your Nextep HR business partner for assistance. 

What if someone chooses to wear a mask when it may not be required and other employees make fun of them?

This would be considered workplace bullying and should not be tolerated. Follow proper disciplinary steps for the bullying employees and put a stop to it immediately. 

It’s important to make sure you’re following all local, state, and federal regulations as well as heeding the advice of HR experts. 

 

Need help developing procedures for your workplace? Contact your HR business partner or give us a call at 888.811.5150. Our experts are ready to help! 

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