Oregon Employers in Counties Entering Phase II May Begin Limited Return to Office Work; Remote Work Is Still Recommended

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Governor Brown’s latest Executive Order, 20-27, issued June 5, 2020 provides comprehensive guidance for Oregon employers as the majority of the state enters Phase II of Oregon’s reopening plan.  In addition to outlining the sector-specific requirements for Phase II, which we recently blogged about here, the Executive Order provides further instructions regarding office work.

Under Oregon’s Stay at Home Order and the Baseline Phase and Phase I of Oregon’s reopening plan, work in offices was prohibited when telework and work from home options were available, in light of position duties, availability of teleworking equipment, and network adequacy.  When telework and work from home options were not available, employers were required to designate someone to establish, implement, and enforce physical distancing policies.  Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county, which includes the City of Portland, remains at the Baseline Phase.

Executive Order 20-27 provides that for Oregon counties entering Phase II, employers may begin limited return to office work.  Remote working remains recommended to the extent practical.  If employers choose to have employees return to the office, some of the most important threshold steps are to develop and train on social distancing policies and requirements.  Employers must designate (or continue to designate) an employee(s) who is best suited to ensure that physical distancing policies are understood and followed by employees returning to the workplace.  It is prudent to think carefully about your employee-designees.  It is also beneficial to maintain open and transparent lines of communication with employees so that they are prepared to return and fully understand expectations and requirements before returning to the office.

The Executive Order also sets expectations regarding Phase III of Oregon’s reopening.  Transitions into Phase III are unlikely until widely available and effective therapeutics or a vaccine becomes available, or other significant changes in the threat from the pandemic emerge.

We will continue to track Oregon’s phased reopening and the impact on Oregon employers.  Additional information about the general legal and business implications of the COVID-19 pandemic is available on our COVID-19 Resource Hub.  For guidance specific to the challenges facing your business, please contact us.

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