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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 continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic with safety and health measures, one issue that may arise is noncompliance with face mask requirements. Whether employers have to require mask wearing by a state or local mandate or are taking it upon themselves to require them (or reinstate the policy) 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 protect wearers and others from the wearer's respiratory droplets that may contain the virus that causes COVID-19. Face coverings are meant to minimize the risk of employees spreading the virus to coworkers and those who come into the workplace, e.g., customers, vendors.

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