On Friday, March 12, 2021, Governor Walz issued a new executive order regarding the COVID-19 virus’s impact on workplaces. Executive Order 21-11 states that, beginning at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, employers may require employees to return to the workplace. The Executive Order notes that employers are “strongly encouraged” to continue allowing employees to work from home after April 14 until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
If requiring employees to return to the office on or after April 14, employers must offer reasonable accommodation to workers whose underlying medical conditions or disabilities interfere with their ability to perform in-office work. An example of a reasonable accommodation would be allowing the employee to continue with remote work or to modify their work schedule to limit their interaction with others in the office.
Employers may also require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination prior to returning to the office. Again, employers must offer reasonable accommodations to employees who have an underlying medical condition, disability, or sincerely-held religious belief that interferes with their ability to get the vaccine. If requiring workers to receive vaccination prior to returning to the office, employers may require workers to provide proof they received the vaccine from a pharmacy or health care provider. We recommend that employers make it clear that they are not requesting any other medical information as part of the proof of vaccine.
As employers contemplate returning workers to the office, we recommend that employers review and update their COVID-19 Preparedness Plans to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for returning workers.
We are continuing to monitor the guidance from governmental and public health entities for best practices in returning to work. Please contact us if you have any questions.