Employers Given Increased Flexibility Regarding Mask, Remote Work Requirements

By: Helena Perray, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. – Governor Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday a new executive order that provides further guidance and flexibility to New Jersey businesses regarding mask and social distancing requirements.

Effective June 4, the order will allow employees with proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to return to work without wearing a mask – so long as they are given permission to do so by their employer. Employers will also have the ability to forego social distancing requirements for their employees within the workspace. According to Gov. Murphy, indoor work sites that are not open to the public should continue to follow all health and safety protocols.

Should employers prefer to do so, they are still able to maintain mask requirements among their staff. Employees may also choose to continue wearing masks and socially distance from others, even after they have been fully vaccinated.

“As we have done, we want to give our businesses ample time to make the right decisions for their employees and work places,” Gov. Murphy said during his briefing. “…There should never be any stigma against any coworker who may be fully vaccinated but chooses, just to be safe, to wear a mask. That is still okay anywhere, anytime.”

State offices, however, will still require that employees and visitors socially distance and wear masks within the office. This includes the state’s various Departments of Motor Vehicles.

Additionally, employers are no longer required to make remote working accommodations for employees who choose not to go into the office. Employers will now be allowed to require in-office working arrangements, beyond the minimal number of employees necessary.

“We encourage all employers to do the right things for their specific work places,” Gov. Murphy said. “While we’re rescinding some requirements, that doesn’t mean that we don’t expect you to be flexible and to work with employees.”

These actions by the state come as a result of both a decrease in COVID-19 cases within the state and an increase in fully vaccinated residents, according to the Governor. More than 4.1 million people who work, live, or study in New Jersey have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. With increased vaccinations, New Jersey can now begin to take steps toward returning to normal life.

“Could we be exposing ourselves to an increase in cases? I think the answer is – we go into this anticipating that we’re taking manageable risk. The risk is there, but that it’s manageable; it’s within our ability to safely and responsibly take those steps,” Gov. Murphy said.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.