Critical legal guidance for employers during COVID-19 is now available on the website of law firm, Shipman & Goodwin.
(Hartford, CT. March 17, 2020) - As the COVID-19 pandemic increases in scope, so does the complexity of the legal obligations employers have to their employees. In response, the Hartford, CT based law firm of Shipman & Goodwin is providing extensive, and up to date list of resources for Connecticut employers on their website.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated “During a pandemic, employers should rely on the latest CDC and state or local public health assessments. While the EEOC recognizes that public health recommendations may change during a crisis and differ between states, employers are expected to make their best efforts to obtain public health advice that is contemporaneous and appropriate for their location, and to make reasonable assessments of conditions in their workplace based on this information.”
Partners Gabriel J. Jiran and Daniel Schwartz and others recognize that Connecticut’s employers are burdened with the responsibility of “making their best efforts” to navigate the health and safety of their employees while complying with the law. Laws that, in the case of the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, aren’t always completely clear. As such, the resources published on the Shipman & Goodwin website are intended to provide employers with expert legal perspectives on how to best handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shipman & Goodwin, while prohibited from providing legal advice on their website, encourages employers to review employment policies and union contracts. Because Connecticut paid sick leave law caps paid sick leave at one week, employers will need to determine how to handle any additional time out of office. It’s recommended employers also review paid sick leave and telecommuting policies and create new policies as needed.
“With Spring Break around the corner, many employers wonder if they can prohibit their employees from travelling,” the website says. Additionally, employers are wondering whether or not they are required by law to pay their employees if they deem it necessary to keep them out of the office, what to do if there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in their workplace and if they can institute mandatory health and safety policies.
“Employers should continue to follow all applicable laws related to the employment relationship. One such law that employers should be aware of is Conn. Gen. Stat. § 28-17, which makes it illegal for an employee to be discharged because the employee is a “member of any organization engaged in civil preparedness.” says a resource posted on the Shipman & Goodwin website, in response to the Governor declared emergency. “If you have any employees who are involved in such organizations and are called upon to serve during this outbreak, you should give some latitude to the employees to fulfill their role in the organization.”
To stay up to date on employer’s obligations during COVID-19, Connecticut employers are encouraged to regularly visit updated resources on the Shipman & Goodwin website, the Center for Disease Control website and the State of Connecticut website. Among the seven articles published in the last 24 hours, two include general employer information on taking employee temperatures as well as specific guidelines for healthcare organizations that employ healthcare workers who have contracted COVID-19.
With more than 165 attorneys in offices throughout Connecticut, New York and in Washington, DC, Shipman & Goodwin serves the needs of local, regional, national and international clients, including public and private companies, institutions, government entities, non-profit organizations and individuals.