Wyatt Employment Law Report

BENEFITS OF PROVIDING EMPLOYEES “ESSENTIAL SERVICES LETTERS”

By: Sharon L. Gold and Jacob N. Eldemire Smith 

State governors across the nation have issued executive orders aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at a torrid pace during the month of March. Although these “stay at home,” “shelter in place,” or “healthy at home” orders are not all identical, most of them require certain businesses to close their doors and wait for further order before re-opening. As a result, many employees are unable to go to work. In Kentucky, however on-site, residents employed in “Life-Sustaining Business,” and, in Indiana, those employed in “Essential Businesses and Operations,” are exempted under executive orders. Ky. Exec. Order No. 2020-257 (Mar. 25, 2020); Ind. Exec. Order No. 20-08 (Mar. 23, 2020), respectively. In both states, businesses that are in the Critical Infrastructure Segments (defined under federal standards) are also exempted from closure and, even if a business is closed to the public, they are allowed to maintain “Minimum Basic Operations,” as explained in the orders.

To maintain operational continuity, it is important for employers to identify which employees are exempted from state and local restrictions and notify employees of their status. Some employers are choosing to provide employees “essential services letters” that the employees can carry with them in case they are questioned whether they are “essential” and entitled to continue working.

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