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California Issues Guidance on Enforcing Mask Requirements

Approximately 48 states have a mask requirement either statewide or in some local areas. As the issue has become a source of strong emotion for many individuals, California has issued guidance to employers on ways to handle the situation. It is part of California’s “COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening.” California currently requires individuals statewide to wear masks when leaving their homes.

According to the guidance, the goal for employers and employees is to de-escalate the situation when faced with an unwilling mask participant. Employers are encouraged to train employees on how to handle the situation to minimize the risk of workplace violence and provide them with avenues of support. Workers are encouraged to remain at least 6 feet away from others and raise concerns with their supervisors. For supervisors who need support, employers are encouraged to make their human resources department available.

Everyone is encouraged to speak with a “calm voice” and be respectful. Specific phrases are suggested in the guidance such as “If you don’t have a face covering, we’d be happy to provide one” (if available) or “Following the guidelines (on face coverings or distancing) can protect you and everyone else, so we ask that you follow them.”