As numerous organizations, associations and agencies urge Texas Governor Greg Abbott to issue a statewide “shelter in place” order several cities and counties have already done so. Interestingly, not all of those cities and counties have adopted the same definitions, terms and conditions within the orders they have prepared or issued. One difference of particular note is the length or established end date for the various shelter in place orders issued or that are scheduled to be issued shortly. For instance, Dallas County has an expiration date of April 3, 2020 for its shelter in place order, but other Texas cities and counties have chosen different dates, such as, Richardson (April 30th end date), Forney (April 8thend date), San Antonio and Bexar County (April 19th end date). Of course, all of these end dates are subject to change or modification as their city and county leaders deem necessary. Of important note is that not all business are subject to these orders if they have been deemed to be “essential employers” by their city and county officials.
As essential employers, those companies and their workforces are allowed to continue operations for the good of the city and/or counties citizens. You might be surprised by what “types” of businesses have been deemed to be essential employers. In fact, several of our clients qualify for this designation and are continuing their operations (in whole or in part due to necessary COVID-19 related layoffs). We’ve found that some of clients with the essential employer designation have or want to issue their workers a letter that states that they work for an essential employer and have permission form their employer to travel to and from work in order to perform their job functions. We have issued such letters to all of our employees. These letters provide the worker with a sense of assurance or comfort that, if questioned by any authority or concerned citizen, that they have “proof of their status” as a worker at an essential business.
Our recommendation is that business owners review the shelter in place orders issued by the cities and counties within which they reside and operate their businesses in order to familiarize themselves with those orders’ details. Who qualifies as an essential employer differs somewhat from one order to the next., so review the order’s language carefully. Our hopes and prayers go out to all of our clients and their workforces, as well as all Americans that are working to make it past this challenge comforting us all. We will continue to post information, observations and updates and hope that you find them to be somehow useful.