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Legal Insider: Virginia Requires Employers to Adopt COVID-Related Safety Requirements

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, on July 15, 2020, became the first state to require employers to adopt safety requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Virginia Department of Labor and Industry rules went into effect on July 27, 2020. A link to these new rules is provided here.

These rules require Virginia employers to take the following steps to protect employees from COVID-19. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Require employers to assess their workplace for potential employee exposure to COVID-19
  • Encourage employees to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect exposure
  • Require employees not to permit employees known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus to report or remain at work
  • Require employers to develop policies for employees that report experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • Asks employers to ensure the use of flexible sick leave policies
  • Notify employees within 24 hours if a co-worker tests positive for COVID-19 while keeping their identity private
  • Require social distancing in the workplace
  • Mandate face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions or when social distancing isn’t possible
  • Sanitize common areas daily
  • Provide easy and frequent access to hand washing and hand sanitizer
  • Other rules provided in the attached policy

Many of the new employer rules in Virginia are common-sense requirements. For Virginia employers whose employees are considered at “high,” “very high,” or “medium” risk of coming into contact with potential COVID-19 positive exposure (e.g. health workers), employers are also required to screen employees at the beginning of each shift and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Virginia employers should take time to read the above-linked 35-page document which provides a list of all of the new employee-safety requirements in order to ensure that they are compliant with these new rules.

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