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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 25, 2020 02:29 PM
From: Senator Christine M. Tartaglione
To: All Senate members
Subject: Covid-19 Grocery Store Worker Safety Act
Grocery stores and drug stores have been designated as essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grocery store workers should be designated as “essential employees” and/or “front line workers” if benefits such as child care, safety measures and paid leave become available to those workers.

In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to improve working conditions for these frontline workers while at the same time reducing the risk of community spread. It is incumbent that these changes be made to reduce the risks of community spread and worker exposure. This legislation would address the following:

Social Distancing: Floor markings should be added to the checkout area, and ensure a safe distance between customers as they stand in line. Install plexiglass shields at the registers for cashiers, as well as other areas where customers can check out. Limit the amount of customers in the store at one time, and implement line control indoors and outdoors, with appropriate spacing between customers. Stores should waive curbside pickup fees to avoid in-store crowds, and designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly customers to shop.

Cleaning & Personal Hygiene: Reduce store hours to allow the store to be restocked, cleaned and disinfected. Allow half of the registers to be open at once, using every other register. Every hour, have cashiers switch registers to allow the other registers to be sanitized. Schedule handwashing breaks. Assign a relief person to step in for cashiers so they can wash their hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds. Have hand sanitizer readily available for employees. Schedule cashier station sanitation breaks. Assign a relief person to rotate through the store and sanitize frequently touched surfaces, including the credit card payment screens. Assign employees to wipe down carts and handbaskets regularly.Reduce handling of paper coupons, and ban the use of reusable bags as well as encourage the use of credit cards over cash.

Paid Benefit Policies: If an employee is directed to or has to quarantine, the Employer should provide financial compensation (at the employee’s regular rate of pay) for the duration of the infection or quarantine. A quarantine may, among other things, be due to exposure to someone in the household. Where applicable, no Employer should disrupt or have an employee’s benefits terminated because of any quarantine or medical leave. In the case of any short term disability, Employers should waive any waiting period for any COVID-19 related matter/claim.

Attendance Policies: Employers should suspend their attendance policies surrounding any quarantine (whether medically directed or voluntary) or COVID-19 related circumstance. For circumstances that involve the care of a family member or for childcare related issues, the Employers should not penalize any employee and allow either (1) use of any personal paid time off (“PTO”) or (2) an unpaid leave of absence.

Protocols if an Employee is Diagnosed with COVID-19: If the Employer has a confirmed case at their worksite, the Employer should immediately clean the department the employee was working in, and send those employees that worked in the same department home immediately (with their regular pay for the remainder of their shift). Further, the Employer should map the path the employee took in the previous day(s) and cleaning those areas immediately. Those employees that were identified as being in contact with the infected employee should also be quarantined and paid up to fourteen (14) days at their regular rate of pay.

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation to help protect some of our lowest paid workers who are keeping our households and this economy moving during this difficult time.

Introduced as SB1102