KSL Investigates: No Enforcement For Businesses Not Following Guidelines For COVID-19

Mar 25, 2020, 12:08 PM | Updated: Apr 2, 2020, 5:55 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — On Tuesday, Governor Herbert and the State Economic Task Force revealed a three-part plan to keep Utah’s economy running called Utah Leads Together.

The plan details steps and a timeline of how Utahns and Utah businesses can first work to flatten the COVID-19 curve, and then stabilize our economy once the urgent needs of fighting the pandemic have passed.

“We all have a role to play,” said Herbert. “We all have a responsibility. This plan will only work if everybody participates in a united front.”

But KSL has received numerous complaints over the past week from scared and angry workers saying their workplaces are not complying with Utah’s guidelines for COVID-19. Allegations include:

  • Not allowing retail workers to wear masks or gloves
  • Not providing time for retail and grocery workers to sufficiently clean check stands
  • Providing no cleaning materials or hand sanitizer
  • No social distancing of workers
  • Not allowing employees to telework even if they have the capability to do so
  • Not reducing non-essential staff
  • Requiring sick notes from doctors if you are sick with something other than COVID-19
  • Telling employees to quit and reapply after the pandemic if they’re not comfortable coming to work

We took these complaints to the Utah Labor Commission. Spokesman Eric Olsen told us as of now, the guidelines are just that: guidelines. “State law doesn’t require an employer to adopt the COVID-19 recommendation and guidelines,” said Olsen, “but employers should definitely consider doing so.

 This means that unless a law is passed forcing businesses to comply, the Labor Commission cannot force any employer to follow the state’s guidelines like social distancing or having employees work from home.

For those employees that don’t feel safe coming to work, simply staying home may not be an option. “The reality is that your employer can make you come to work,” said Olsen.

Coronavirus is not listed as a condition or disability that is protected by statute from workplace termination. This means any employee who chooses to stay at home against their workplace’s wishes could lose their job. Olsen said it would be likely the employee would have no recourse against this firing, so long as the employer is applying the standard to all employees.

The Labor Commission has received a few complaints from employees, and Olsen said they’re doing everything they can to encourage and educate businesses on following good health practices during the pandemic.

When KSL asked Governor Herbert if there is any enforcement mechanism for businesses not following these guidelines, he said to fill out the constituent services comment form here.

“We’re happy to help refer you to someone who can give you some answers to questions or to give you help if you have some complaints,” said Herbert.

As of now, KSL could not identify or confirm one government entity as the main contact point for complaints against businesses regarding COVID-19 guidelines compliance.

Governor Herbert said he is not planning on what he calls “more draconian measures” of lockdown or enforcement of guidelines for now, but hopes everyone can do their part to follow the set guidelines on their own and keep Utah’s COVID-19 infection rates down.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Visit KSLInvestigates.com to submit your tip, so we can get working for you. You Ask. KSL Investigates. 

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KSL Investigates: No Enforcement For Businesses Not Following Guidelines For COVID-19