COVID-19: NJ announces COVID centric private employer work safety rules effective November 6, 2020

Pursuant to a new executive order, the Murphy administration is setting up statewide COVID-19 safety standards for private sector employers, and a means to enforce those rules.

Under the order Gov. Phil Murphy signed earlier today, 10-28-2020, which goes into effect at 6:00 a.m. on Nov. 6th, the state has set up will set up a compliance regime with a collection of mandatory COVID-19 reopening protocols, and the means to go after non-compliant employers.

Per NJBIZ, at a minimum, workers have to undergo health screenings at the start of every shift, while everyone present at the workplace has to remain socially distanced. Employees must be made aware if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 at the workplace.

Employees have to wear a mask, provided at the expense of the business owner, who would also supply sanitizing materials to customers and workers at their own expense. High-touch areas must be routinely cleaned and disinfected, while employees must be provided hand-washing breaks throughout the day.

The Murphy administration included similar rules for large-scale business re-openings, like sanitization, face mask usage, 6-foot physical distancing, staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding, protocols for quarantining COVID-positive workers, and how to screen potentially infected employees.

But without a state-level system of private sector enforcement, it has been reported that many workers continued to feel at risk.

To date, federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has only put out voluntary guidance for individual states, rather than strict mandates.

Under the Executive Order, the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will be required to create a system to investigate a lack of compliance and pursue enforcement actions.

The rules are expected to include a system where employees can submit complaints.

State health and labor officials will be authorized to perform workplace inspections, issue subpoenas and interview both workers and their employers.

The two departments would jointly create a system to aid business owners in complying with the rules. Moreover, the labor department would create worksite notices and materials for both workers and business owners.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Caroline Austin, Danielle Dyer, Elizabeth Mincer, Kathy O’Malley, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: PA issues Executive Order extending Residential Evictions and Foreclosures Moratorium until August 31, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf signed a new executive order earlier today, July 15, 2020, extending the moratorium on residential evictions and foreclosures until Aug. 31.

This Order follows a previous moratorium extension, but now only applies if the renters or homeowners have not already received assistance from a new program administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) or are not already receiving relief through one of several federal foreclosure moratorium programs or judicial orders.

Lenders and property owners that receive funds through the PHFA program must agree not pursue foreclosure or eviction actions as a condition of participation in the program. The governor signed legislation in May providing $150 million for rental assistance and $25 million for mortgage assistance through PHFA with CARES Act funds. PHFA began accepting applications July 6.

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Housing Finance Agency, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have each extended eviction and foreclosure protections for housing under their authority to Aug. 31.

In terms of the applying of the Order, it states:

The provisions of this Order and the suspension of the Acts under this Order apply only to matters involving the nonpayment of monies as well as to those proceedings related to removal of any tenant solely because the tenant has held over or exceeded the term of a lease. The Order does not apply to suspend notice requirements relating to evictions for breaches of any other covenants.

This Order does not treat nonpayment of monies during this period as forgiven and individuals are still responsible for any rent or monies owed under the terms of the mortgage or lease agreement.

Therefore, in almost all circumstances, renters and homeowners are still required to make monthly payments if they can. Also, importantly, the governor’s Order does not apply to proceedings regarding property damage or illegal activity.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, David Augustin, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!