Essential Business Letter Template

Public health orders continue to impact how we live and work during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a business owner, you need to know if your company should be fully open, scaled down or closed completely. If your company is part of the country’s essential critical infrastructure, give your employees an essential business operations letter to confirm their role. This document helps them travel to and from work during shelter-in-place and quarantine restrictions.


Read on for tips on determining whether your business is considered essential. We’ve also included guidelines on managing risk to workers and a template for writing an essential business letter to confirm the roles of employees.


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What is an essential business?

Essential businesses remain open during public emergencies to ensure:

  • Access to goods and services necessary for survival, such as food, medicine, water, health care and transportation
  • Continued operation of essential critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications, information technology, manufacturing and distribution of goods

Using CISA guidelines for direction

To help organizations determine if a business is essential, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) publishes an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce list. You can use this list to decide if your goods and services are considered necessary and which employees need access to the workplace during shelter-in-place and quarantine restrictions.


CISA provides this list as guidance and to help with decision-making. It’s important to note that CISA’s list isn’t legally binding and isn’t a federal government directive. Essential businesses may vary by region depending on local infrastructure needs. You must comply with restrictions or mandates issued by local authorities.


Here are some industries that CISA considers essential critical infrastructure and examples of employees who perform essential work within these sectors. The complete list is available on the CISA website.


Health care and public health

  • Doctors, nurses and health care providers
  • Laboratory personnel for clinical and biomedical research
  • Manufacturers, vendors and suppliers of medical supplies
  • Laundry, food service, administrative, security and information technology workers at health care facilities
  • Health plan insurance and billing staff
  • Meal providers for older adults and those with disabilities


  • Workers supporting preschool, K-12 and postsecondary education
  • Teachers, teacher aides, school administrators, school psychologists and nurses
  • Crossing guards, IT specialists, transportation, custodial and maintenance staff


  • Employees supporting mass transit, vehicle rental, car-sharing and vehicle repair services
  • Workers essential to the operation of roads, bridges, highways and tunnels
  • Postal service and couriers
  • Bus, truck and taxi drivers

Food and agriculture

  • Workers supporting production and distribution of food for humans and animals
  • Employees supporting the manufacturing and maintenance of equipment for agricultural production
  • Workers at food-testing laboratories
  • Staff at restaurants, fast-food services, groceries, pharmacies and convenience stores

Communications and information technology

  • Manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment
  • Workers supporting wireless networks, cable providers, satellite operations and network access points
  • Technicians, operators, call center staff, engineers, customer service and retail personnel

Hygiene products and services

  • Employees at laundromats, laundry services and dry cleaners
  • Staff who repair and maintain personal and household goods
  • Workers who manufacture personal hygiene, home cleaning, pest control and commercial disinfectant products

Financial services

  • Employees enabling access to banks, financial and lending services, insurance services and capital markets
  • Workers who process, verify and record financial transactions

Other essential functions

  • Judges, lawyers, legal aides and support staff in the judicial system
  • Reporters and technicians involved in radio, print, television and internet news gathering and distribution
  • Weather forecasters
  • Workers caring for animals in veterinary clinics, shelters, zoos and aquariums

Ensuring the safety of essential workers

Essential businesses must protect employees who continue to do their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the safety protocols you implement are specific to the needs and processes of your organization, be sure you’re also following guidance and requirements set by:

Evaluating employee risk

Keep in mind that some business teams may be able to work from home while other groups of employees need to come into the workplace. CISA suggests that businesses facilitate remote work whenever possible.


If employees must be physically present in the workplace, you should develop strategies to minimize possible exposure to the virus. This includes:

  • Physical separation of staff
  • Work cohorts
  • Staggered shifts
  • Social distancing measures
  • Use of disposable face masks instead of reusable cloth masks

CISA also recommends evaluating individual employee risk factors such as:

  • Whether workers are indoors or outdoors
  • Proximity of workers and customers
  • Shared or common surfaces
  • Average interaction time between employees and customers
  • Number of interactions between employees and customers
  • Individual risk due to age and underlying medical conditions
  • Ability of your business to screen for infection (such as taking temperatures)
  • Ability to clean and sanitize frequently

Your business should implement appropriate protective measures based on these risks. For more information, see OSHA’s risk categorization guide for businesses.


Guidelines for workers who feel unwell

You may also want to review the employee benefits you offer during this period. For example, you could consider amending a sick leave policy that discourages employees from staying home even if they’re unwell.


Make sure you advise your employees of the CDC’s criteria for home isolation and when it’s safe for them to return to work.


Essential Business Operations Letter Template

If your employees are deemed essential and need to come to work, provide them with an essential business operations letter to confirm their status. This letter can be presented to law enforcement when employees are travelling to and from work during public health restrictions.


An essential business operations letter should include:

  • Name of your company
  • Employee name
  • Employee ID number (if applicable)
  • Employee title
  • Hours the employee normally works
  • Location of employment
  • Contact information for further questions

The letter should be customized to the specifics of your business and the employee’s responsibilities. You can describe how your business fits into the country’s essential critical infrastructure with language from CISA’s guidelines. The letter should be printed on company letterhead and include a signature.


Here’s a template and essential business sample letter you can use to get started.

Essential business letter template


RE: Essential Worker Employment Confirmation


This letter confirms that [employee name], who is a [position] at [company name], is employed in a critical service capacity in the [industry type] sector. Our company [describe essential work performed] and is considered critical infrastructure according to CISA’s Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Guidance Version 4.0.


This employee works at [insert type of workplace] at [insert workplace address] and must travel to and from work to carry out their duties. This work is necessary to allow our business to [describe employee duties]. The normal hours of employment for this position are [shift or hours].


For further confirmation of employment or questions, please contact:

[Manager contact name]

[Cell phone number]



[Employer name]

[Employer title]


Essential business sample letter

November 15, 2020

RE: Essential Worker Employment Confirmation


This letter confirms that Jane Smith, a Quality Assurance Manager at XYZ Disinfectant Supplies, is employed in a critical service capacity in the Hygiene Products and Services sector. Our company manufactures products necessary to clean, disinfect and sanitize residential homes, shelters, and commercial facilities. This role is considered essential according to CISA Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Guidance Version 4.0.


This employee works at our production facilities at 1234 Production Street and must travel to and from work to carry out their duties. This work is necessary to ensure products are manufactured to our standards and safe for public use. The normal hours of employment for this position are 6am to 2pm, Monday to Friday.


For additional questions, please contact our Human Resources department at (555) 123-4567.



Mary Doe

President and CEO

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