We made it halfway through 2020.

I know it FEELS as if it should be December, but just think how long March was!

A lot has changed since the start of the pandemic.  But over the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing from employers wondering where things stand right now. What’s changed? What still remains?

So I thought I would try to recap some of the key developments the last few months with some links for an easy a slightly less complicated way of understanding how employers should be operating now.

  • For employers with less than 500 employees, there are paid sick leave provisions under the EPSLA.  Employees who get sick with COVID-19, who are under quarantine, or who are caring for other pandemic-stricken relatives are entitled to their salary or a portion of it for 2 weeks (12 weeks if caring for children whose schools are closed).
  • Essential employers can continue to remain open (and have more than 50 percent of their workforce at the workplace itself) but only if they continue to follow the safety rules set forth by DECD for essential employers. These rules are expected to continue throughout the summer.
  • Other offices that were part of the Phase One reopenings can have employees return to the workplace, subject to a 50 percent capacity cap and subject to following sector rules issued by the DECD.  These rules and caps are likely to continue throughout the summer.
  • Other businesses have to adapt to the sector rules; for example, restaurants have a series of required steps that need to be undertaken before opening for outdoor dining and even indoor dining.
  • In virtually all of the reopening rules for employers, businesses are encouraged to still have employees work from home where feasible.
  • Employees who travel Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah should self-quarantine at home for 14 days. Essential employees are exempt from this requirement though it is not clear if that’s only if their travel was in a business capacity.
    (UPDATE: 12p 6/30 – Connecticut has expanded this list to also include:  California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee)
  • Employees who are quarantined under this travel advisory may be eligible for paid sick leave, but if they are working from home (or your workplace has more than 500 employees), then EPSLA likely does not apply.
  • Face coverings are required at most workplaces, most of the time and need to be provided by the employers if employees don’t have them.  The state’s unofficial motto of “If You Have to Ask, Wear a Mask” can be taken one step further in the workplace: Just Do It.
  • Employees who are over age 65 or employees who have a pre-existing health condition, are encouraged to avoid the workplace; but, employers may not issue a blanket rule prohibiting those employees from reporting to the workplace.  Employees with a disability may need to be accommodated; employees over 65 years old may not be entitled to such an accommodation but employers should work with employees where possible. Beware the age discrimination suit.
  • The extra $600 in unemployment benefits from the federal government is set to expire around July 25th. But employees in Connecticut may be entitled to extended state benefits at that time; new information was recently released by the CTDOL.
  • The State released extensive guidance yesterday for reopening public schools this fall.  Independent schools should review the guidance as well.  Ultimately, getting kids back to school is a key element to having their parents return to the workplace too.  My firm will be releasing updated information on its School Law blog later this week after our review. 
  • Federal courts in Connecticut are continuing with business as usual and the state courts are slowly getting up to speed with increasing uses of technology. However, employers should not anticipate any civil jury trials for the rest of 2020.

2020 has brought more developments in employment law than in just about any year that I can remember since I began practicing law.  Take stock of the current rules of operating a business and be flexible.  I suspect that before this year is out, we’ll have a second wave re-emerge and we’ll need to be readjusting yet again.

Until then, try to enjoy summer in Connecticut. Perhaps a lobster roll?