A week after first issuing guidance identifying the workers considered essential for critical industries in the United States during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on March 28, 2020, revised that guidance to capture a broader array of workers, particularly in the energy sector.
The expansions and clarifications classifying the following workers as essential may be of particular interest to energy companies:
Note that this guidance remains voluntary. The revised memorandum issued by CISA emphasizes that decisions regarding which workers are essential remains within the discretion of state and local governments:
This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.
As a result, companies in the energy sector should closely review their state and local designations of essential workers. In many states, CISA’s guidance is incorporated by reference, but in other states that is not the case. For workers who are considered essential, energy companies should consider issuing supporting paperwork for these claims.