Eight Things Your Small Business Needs to Know About Mask Policies

Date: June 14, 2021

As businesses across the nation continue to reopen and return to normal operations, owners in many states must consider their mask-wearing policies. Here’s what you need to know.

Across the nation, countless businesses are glad to be more fully reopening and bringing staff back to work. Yet recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding masks can pose challenges and unanswered questions about mask-wearing policies. Here are the most important considerations for any business owner establishing or revising a mask-wearing policy for their staff. 

  1. Be aware of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. The CDC no longer recommends mandatory mask-wearing or social distancing for vaccinated workers. However, the guidance isn’t universal: for example, everyone needs to wear masks aboard public transportation, vaccinated or not. 
  2. Follow state and local laws. Some states and counties may still require employees to remain masked and socially distanced, even if they’re vaccinated. If the law in your community contradicts the CDC guidance, then that law takes precedence.  
  3. Consider establishing parallel policies. The CDC suggests that all employers establish different sets of policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. It bears repeating that the CDC guidance is just that: guidance, not laws.  
  4. Do not discriminate. Even if state and local law are in accordance with what the CDC suggests, it’s important that you do not discriminate between your vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. 
  5. Create clear guidance on your mask-wearing policy to avoid confusion from your employees. This includes reporting procedures if another employee violates the policy. 
  6. Protect your employees’ privacy. While you can ask an employee if they are vaccinated for the purposes of determining mask-wearing, social distancing, and quarantining requirements, consider prohibiting employees from asking one another if they’re vaccinated. Vaccination status is an employee’s private health information.  
  7. Review federal policy. In addition to the CDC, the Equal Employment and Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has issued extensive guidelines on best practices for your business, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance on how best to protect your employees. They will also likely update their guidelines over time. 
  8. Keep checking NFIB.com. For example, if you have more questions about how to handle asking staff about their vaccination status, see our guide here. 

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