After releasing the reopening guidelines for businesses earlier this week, the state has updated its website to include a new online certification that employers must complete before reopening the physical workplace.

You can find the reopening certification here.

As the website indicates:

Business [sic] must self-certify and commit to comply with the Sector Rules established to keep their employees and customers safe. Once complete, you will be provided with signage and a badge that you can voluntarily post at your place of business or website.

What is a bit intriguing about this certifcation is that it seeks more information than would otherwise be required of employers. For example, if you are a women-owned, or MBE-Minority or a veteran-owned business, you are asked to identify that as well. No reason is provided.

Businesses are then asked to review the rules and guidelines that have been previously released.

And then businesses must self-certify as follows:

As a representative of this business, I understand that the most important consideration will be the health and safety of the employees and customers of my represented business. I have read these rules and would ensure strict adherence to the protocols listed.

And then,

By clicking this box, I am attesting to the fact that the information provided is accurate. False statements made herein are punishable under the penalty for false statement set out in C.G.S. Section 53a-157b.

Presumably, these certifications would be discoverable through an FOI request to the state;  employers must make sure the information in the online form is accurate. This is not just a “form” to click thru; but rather an attestation in which false statements are punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

We don’t yet know all the ramifications of what failure to follow all the rules to the letter will mean. Will employees say that an employer failed to provide a “reasonably safe workplace” under federal or state law? Will the state seek enforcement actions against such employers?

Suffice to say that reopening businesses isn’t as simple as turning on a light switch. The certificiation of the type of business that you are is also important to get right, particularly if you are submitting information to the contrary somewhere else.  Employers need to invest significant time and resources to understand the reopening guidelines and ensure compliance.  This might not be able to be done by May 20th, which is the earliest reopening date.

Take your time and seek legal guidance where you need to.

For more on reopening businesses, we held a webinar on Thursday discussing all of these details as well as other specific scenarios that employers need to consider in reopening.