You know that your business is “life sustaining” – and entitled to remain open despite the “stay at home” order which now restricts business in all of Pennsylvania – because you checked the latest version of the order at (https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200401-GOV-Statewide-Stay-at-Home-Order.pdf)
(The list of such businesses – already updated several times – is online at https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6816337/452553026-UPDATED-Industry-Operation-Guidance.pdf. Pennsylvania’s general guidelines are at https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.)
However, the state trooper who sees your employees driving to work probably doesn’t know all those details, and may pull them over.
Although your employees may trust your instruction that they can drive to work safely, can they explain why to a uniformed officer under the pressure of a traffic stop?
So a citation on the way to work may seem inevitable if a trooper sees an employee driving to work – unless, of course, the employee can provide a brief, clear explanation of why the employee can still commute, when most people (including the author of this memo) can’t do so.
On the first day of enforcement of the stay at home order, a client pleaded for help after several of its employees had been detained in a rural county on their way to work.
After investigating the newly adopted rules, however, we recommended that our client’s employees carry a portable, one page explanation of why its employees were allowed to work and commute, complete with citations to the list of permitted businesses.
We also recommend our client’s suggestion, that its commuting employees carry a pay stub or other proof of employment by its essential business.
(However, you should not assume that the rules our client’s employees faced under Pennsylvania’s stringent rules are what your employees may face in your own location. In addition to checking your local guidelines, the Department of Homeland Security lists “essential critical infrastructure” firms in its Guidance on the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce#.)
If your business is eligible to remain open during a stay at home order, we can assist you in preparing a letter which may be helpful in avoiding a citation should your employees be stopped while commuting.
Our employment and business law attorneys listed below can help you navigate these issues.
We hope that you and your business weather the COVID-19 storm.
Please contact Nancy Abrams or Jennifer Chalal for employment matters, or Peter Cripps, Joseph Devine or Stanley Jaskiewicz for business matters:
Nancy Abrams 215-241-8894 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Chalal 215-241-8817 email@example.com
Peter Cripps 215-241-8884 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Devine 215-825-8942 email@example.com
Stanley Jaskiewicz 215-241-8866 firstname.lastname@example.org