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How to Address an Employee's Refusal to Wear a Mask During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

As employers operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and implement safety and health precautions throughout their workplaces, one issue many are facing is noncompliance with face mask requirements. Whether employers are obligated to require mask wearing by a state or local mandate or taking it upon themselves to require them as a way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 at work, it is undoubtedly a sensitive situation to confront for various reasons.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommend the wearing of a cloth face covering as a way to contain the wearer's respiratory droplets that may contain the virus that causes COVID-19. Face coverings are meant to prevent employees, including those who do not know they have the virus, from spreading it to others. Several states and localities require that face coverings be worn by employees while at work while some businesses have implemented mask requirements across all their worksites.

An employer should follow the steps below when addressing an employee who refuses to wear a mask while at work.