As of July 25, 2020, Governor Walz has ordered that all Minnesotans must wear face coverings (face masks) in indoor businesses and indoor public settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order includes new requirements for Minnesota employers to follow in their workplaces, as noted below.
New Executive Order: Minnesota Executive Order 20-81
NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS
- Employees need to wear face masks covering nose and mouth completely when:
- Inside businesses and public indoor spaces.
- Working outside where social distancing cannot be maintained.
- When mandated by applicable industry guidance.
Additional Resource: Industry Guidance Library
Periodic reminders to employees on how to properly wear a face mask may be helpful to assure compliance with this new requirement.
- Employers need to update their COVID-19 Preparedness Plans to include the face mask requirements of new Executive Order:
- Employees need to be informed of changes to the plan.
- The revised plan needs to be made available to employees.
- New signage is required:
- At least one sign needs to be posted.
- Sign needs to be visible to employees, customers, and visitors instructing them to wear required face masks.
Additional Resource: Printable Posters on Executive Order 20-81
- Employers need to make reasonable efforts to require customers and visitors to follow the new face mask requirements:
- This requirement ties into employer's obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
- Employers need to train employees on steps to take to respond to customers or visitors who enter business.
- Below are suggested steps to take when a customer or visitor enters business without a mask:
- Remind individual of the mask requirement;
- Offer the individual a disposable mask;
- If individual still refuses to wear mask, request that the person leave the premises; and
- If the individual refuses to leave the premises, follow normal procedures for handling difficult individuals on the premises.
- Note: No one is required to enforce the face mask requirement if doing so would be unsafe. Additionally, no one is authorized to restrain, assault or physically remove someone who refuses to comply with the face mask requirement.
- Offer reasonable accommodations to customers or visitors who are unable to wear a mask due to a medical or mental condition or disability such as:
- Reusable face shields;
- Curbside pick-up or home delivery; and/or
- Expedited service if individual can wear a face mask for a short time, i.e. allow the individual to move to front of line.
- Note: A business cannot require a customer or visitor to explain the nature of their condition or disability, or require proof of their condition or disability.
An accommodation is not reasonable if it jeopardizes the health of employees or other visitors or customers.
If no reasonable accommodation is available, a business may refuse service and ask the customer or visitor to leave the premises.
OTHER KEY CONCERNS FOR EMPLOYERS
Who provides face masks?
- Employers are encouraged, but not required, to provide face masks.
- If any employer does not provide face masks, employees are responsible for obtaining their own.
When can an employee work without a mask?
An employee can work without a mask when:
- Alone in an office or room, a vehicle, or a cab of heavy equipment or machinery;
- In a cubicle so long as the cubicle walls are higher than face level and social distancing is maintained; and/or
- When communicating with an individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, or otherwise has a disability or medical or mental health condition that makes communication while wearing a face mask difficult, provided social distancing is maintained.
At all times, an employee should have a face mask on hand for person-to-person interactions.
What if an employee cannot wear a mask?
If an employee has a disability or medical or mental health condition that prevents them from wearing a face mask, an employer should handle the situation according to its usual policy for addressing requests for reasonable accommodations under applicable laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
Accommodations suggested by the Minnesota Department of Health:
- Offer the employee the option of wearing a face shield instead.
- Take steps to mitigate the employee's interaction with others.
We Can Help
Please contact Maslon's Labor & Employment Group if you have questions related to face masks in the workplace.