Essential Businesses Can Limit Employee Commuting Stress With “Allow To Pass” Letters and Access Cards

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In a prior blog post I discussed how food manufacturers can comply with shelter in place orders and still operate. Federal, state and local shelter in place orders have deemed protection of our food supply to be essential as the nation deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients are reaching out to us asking for suggestions about how they can alleviate the concerns of their employees who must come in to help with food manufacturing, supply or distribution activities during this time.

While we are not currently aware of any incidences where workers have been stopped for a potential violation of a valid shelter in place order, news reports suggest that enforcement of shelter in place orders may become more of a priority as the United States now has the world’s highest number of reported coronavirus cases. In light of this development, one way essential businesses can help limit employee stress during this time is by supplying them with “allow to pass” letters and/or “access cards” that may be presented should the employee be stopped by legal authorities as they conduct travel to and/or from work.

Allow to pass letters can be created internally by staff, of course, but we recommend that you work with legal counsel to review your template form for accuracy and completeness.  Although there is no federal or state guidance regarding the content of any access card/allow to pass letter, we recommend the following minimum content to be presented on company letterhead:

    • Name of Employer
    • Description of business (ex. “food manufacturer”)
    • Representation that the business is both: 1) an “Essential Business” or part of our nation’s “Critical Infrastructure” with citation to applicable order(s)/guidelines regarding the importance of food production and supply, and 2) complying with recommended safety directives for responsible operation
    • Employee Job Title
    • State that the employee, by virtue of his/her position within the company is absolutely necessary to vital role that the business plays regarding food production and/or supply
    • Conclude with a respectful request to allow the employee to travel to and from work without hindrance

Beyond the allow to pass letter, businesses can also supply their employees with “access cards” that they can carry as extra security.  The access card is a shorthand analog to the allow to pass letter, with the express purpose of being carried by the employee as a backup resource – think of it as the employee’s COVID-19 business card.  Accordingly, it should be a much simpler format, such as the following:

I am an employee of <enter text>.

I am working as an employee for a company that is exempt from the shelter-in-place provisions as defined under “essential infrastructure” per this county’s directives. If you have any questions, please call my supervisor, <enter text>, at this phone #<enter contact number>.

This general format can and should be customized to adhere to each business and the appropriate exception designation from the pertinent shelter-in-place directive.  We also recommend that a company logo be placed on the card.  Further, we reiterate that businesses should contact legal counsel to ensure the accuracy of their allow to pass/access cards before they are issued to employees.

Wendel Rosen LLP is actively assisting our clients during this pressing time, drawing upon our full-service capabilities to assist individuals and businesses on all manner of COVID-19 issues.

Published by Bill Acevedo

I am the Chair of Wendel Rosen LLP's Green Business Practice Group, and I am the Co-Chair of my firm's Food and Beverage Group. My practice focuses on manufacturing and food, dietary supplement and cosmetic companies. I provide outside general counsel services to my clients, which include: entity formation, business and legal advice on proposed business transactions, general contract negotiation and drafting, brand and licensing protection, corporate governance, capital raises, and M&A transactions. Additionally, I assist my clients with labeling, advertising, and FDA regulatory compliance matters. In addition to my corporate transactional practice, I handle all manner of business litigation, such as labeling/advertising claims, contractual disputes, trade secret matters, partnership disputes, product liability claims, director and officer liability, and unfair business practices claims.

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