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Who Counts as an Essential Employee?

a doctor wearing a maskMost of the workers who have constant contact with the public are considered essential employees. Many states have required non-essential employees to work from home, when possible.

Learn which professions count as essential employees in various states across the U.S.

Essential Employees, Explained

The official definition of an “essential employee” varies from state to state. There is also federal guidance on the matter. According to the U..S Department of Homeland Security, essential employees are those who conduct a range of operations and services that are essential to continue critical infrastructure operations.

Additionally, these individuals often have to show up to their place of work in person rather than work from home. This puts essential employers at a greater risk of COVID-19 exposure than those who can work remotely.

Forty-two states in the country have directives or orders regarding essential employees. Of these 42 states, 20 defer to the federal government’s definition of an essential employee as developed by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The remaining 22 states have developed their own lists of who needs to continue working under stay-at-home orders. It’s important to note that each state’s definition of an essential employee can differ dramatically depending on the types of businesses and services each state deems essential. For example, some states may declare churches and religious services as essential while others that support the cannabis industry designate marijuana dispensaries as essential.

In general, most states deem workers in the following professions as essential:

  • Energy
  • Child care
  • Water and wastewater
  • Agriculture and food production
  • Critical retail (grocery stores, hardware stores, mechanics)
  • Critical trades (construction workers, electricians, plumbers)
  • Transportation
  • Nonprofits and social service organizations

Essential employees are at a much greater risk of COVID-19 exposure than others. If you or someone you love contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, our team may be able to help you recover compensation through your employer or a workers’ compensation claim.

Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. at (877) 958-7920 to schedule a consultation.

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