In light of the current COVID-19 health crisis, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued an Executive Order requiring all individuals to remain at home unless they are carrying out essential business. This Order is effective March 24, 2020, through April 6, 2020, unless otherwise extended.
Several entities qualify as “essential” under the Order. While these entities may continue operating, they must abide by the terms of the Order and the Center for Disease Control recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Pursuant to the Executive Order, all businesses must do the following:
- Permit employees to work from home when possible,
- Encourage sick employees to remain home until they are no longer contagious,
- Update sick leave policies to ensure they are non-punitive and flexible,
- Send home employees with respiratory illness symptoms,
- Reinforce sanitation protocol with employees,
- Frequently disinfect commonly touched surfaces, and
- Develop a plan to alter business practices in order to maintain critical operations.
Essential businesses may still require in-person attendance if it is necessary for the operation of the business and doing so does not violate other terms of the Executive Order. However, in order to protect their employees, essential businesses should immediately implement procedures to comply with the requirements listed above. Please refer to KDDK’s article “Asking employees to report for work as usual? Risk of liability is relatively low.” for advice on specific protocol.
During this executive emergency, only essential travel is permitted. Therefore, employers may issue a travel authorization document for essential employees to have when traveling to and from work.
While “nonessential” businesses are required to cease operations, they may still maintain “minimum basic operations.” Minimum basic operations include the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical location and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, facilitate the continued ability to work remotely as necessary, and all other related functions.
The Executive Order provides a comprehensive list of essential entities. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but instead a summary of the essential categories. Each category may have special caveats for which you may need to seek legal counsel.
Essential entities include those that provide:
- Sanitation services,
- Security services,
- Financial services,
- Essential infrastructure (including construction, utility services, maintenance, etc.),
- Services that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential business operations,
- Operational services (HVAC, plumbing, electricity, etc.),
- Healthcare and pharmaceutical services, as well as funeral services,
- Social services,
- Food services,
- Transportation and lodging services,
- Shipping services,
- Educational services, and
- Professional services (legal, accounting, insurance, real estate, etc.).