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COVID-19 Essential Employee Authorization Letter [+Template]

Template and instructions to create an essential employee authorization letter

April 3rd, 2020


With COVID-19 a remaining concern for employers, essential businesses are wondering what they can do to ensure their employees can travel freely to work under these restrictions.

Although as of this writing, no states require employees to carry proof of employment, some government agencies have suggested that employees be given an essential employee authorization letter stating that they are part of an essential business, and required to be out in public to do their job.

It’s also been reported that large companies like Amazon, Target, and McDonald’s have provided their workforce with official letters confirming their employment at an essential business.

Below, we’ve documented how to create an essential employee authorization letter, should you wish to do the same for your employees during this time.

What Should the Letter Say?

This will vary greatly depending on your location. We recommend checking your local government website to understand what they consider an "Essential Business," and understand the relevant requirements to determine if your company falls under your local essential business rules.

Because rules and regulations are rapidly changing, it’s important to consistently check for changes so you can stay updated on the latest requirements. HR experts also recommend that you interpret the scope of the orders given by your local government very narrowly to avoid potential penalties, and consistently check to see if any specific documentation becomes required.

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We created an example of what an essential employee authorization letter could look like. However, the contents of the letter might vary greatly depending on your business’ location, and this example should not be taken as legal advice. That said, based on the example from Amazon, and what we currently know about most shelter in place or stay at home orders, we have put together a starting place for your business to create your own essential employee letter:

To whom it may concern:

[Employee name] is employed by [Company name], which is (or is a supplier of) an essential business as defined by [local information such as Executive Order number]. As such, this employee is exempt from mobility restrictions when reporting to or returning from work, or while performing their job duties.

Please direct all questions to [name] at [contact information].


[Company Executive signature]

How should the letter be created?

The letter should be printed on the official company letterhead and distributed to employees to carry with them. If you have a modern HRIS like GoCo, you should be able to create a template for the letter that will allow you to automatically insert each employee’s information into it - a huge time saver, especially since the letter will likely need to be updated as regulations continue to change.

GoCo’s MagicDocs feature allows letters to be created as a template that inserts employee information from their profile, so you only have to create the document one time, and don't have to update it for each employee. With GoCo, you can also make this document available for employees to access on their own should they need to print another copy or reference it for any reason.

If you have questions about how to use GoCo to stay in compliance with new laws being introduced in light of COVID-19, contact us. Our team is on standby to help you navigate these unprecedented changes and make the adjustments as easy as possible to keep your business going smoothly.

The GoCo team is working hard to support HR pros through COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more tools and tips 💚

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