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Legal Alert

What Employers Need To Know As Florida Begins To Reopen

5.22.20

This week, Governor Ron DeSantis and many of Florida’s largest counties issued orders carefully detailing if and how businesses across the state may re-open. Fisher Phillips has reviewed the relevant orders, which are summarized below.

On May 18, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive order bringing all Florida counties into Full Phase 1 of his plan for re-opening Florida’s economy went into effect. The new order provides that virtually all businesses and services may reopen, subject to certain restrictions, with further loosening in Phases 2 and 3 to follow. Employers should be aware of their current obligations and keep a close eye on them as they change with the next phases of the Governor’s plan.

For now, the Governor’s order provides that:

Additionally, numerous Florida counties have implemented orders to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, which means there may be additional requirements depending on your location. For example, the following counties have instituted additional requirements:

Miami-Dade County (effective May 18)

Miami-Dade County has also issued an accompanying “Handbook” to this order, detailing specific guidelines to follow that vary by industry. While much of it is merely recommendation, text in bold is considered an order that must be followed. The Handbook is intended to be a dynamic document that is frequently edited to reflect current trends in cases and the risk in loosening restrictions. Significantly, if any establishment has an on-site employee or contractor who tests positive, the employer must close for the shorter of:

Broward County (effective May 18, 2020)

Broward County issued a second emergency order effective Friday, May 22, providing even more guidelines for businesses to re-open. It provides some new, or more specific, guidelines that all businesses must follow, such as:

This new order provides significant detail and guidance that certain industries must follow. Some of these pertain to:

Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County has promulgated few mandates restricting businesses and has largely followed the lead of the governor’s office. However, the County has recently:

Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County has lifted the County’s safer-at-home order. Thus, Hillsborough County has no additional restrictions other than those promulgated by the governor.

Orange County (effective May 4, 2020)

What Does This Mean for Employers?

Employers with operations in Florida should review the governor’s orders and any orders issued by their respective local governments for additional restrictions. Additionally, employers should have a plan in place to establish a safe workplace and communicate that plan to employees. Employees will likely have concerns about returning to work and will want assurances that it is safe to do so. Where possible, state and county orders have encouraged telework.

Employers should also assess what existing policies such as work-from-home, attendance, and sick leave policies should be revised to accommodate the needed operational changes. Finally, employers should re-familiarize themselves with the leave entitlements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as we anticipate more claims for leave as additional industries begin to reopen.

Because the situation is rapidly changing, it is critical that employers continue to monitor for new guidance and requirements from the Governor and their local governments.

As you begin the process of reopening, you should also familiarize yourself with our alert: 5 Steps To Reopen Your Workplace, According To CDC’s Latest Guidance. You should also keep handy our 4-Step Plan For Handling Confirmed COVID-19 Cases When Your Business Reopens in the event you learn of a positive case at your workplace. For a more thorough analysis of the many issues you may encounter from a labor and employment perspective, we recommend you review our FP BEYOND THE CURVE: Post-Pandemic Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers and our FP Resource Center For Employers.

Conclusion

We will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Alert System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, any attorney in any of our Florida offices, or any member of our Post-Pandemic Strategy Group Roster.


This Legal Alert provides an overview of specific state and county laws. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

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