As the Covid-19 pandemic continues throughout the world, many workplaces have gone virtual. While the advent of technology makes a remote workforce possible, the newly remote workforce brings with it additional challenges to a company’s information technology (“IT”) systems. However, proper policies and procedures that govern the security of IT systems and employees’ use of such systems can go a long way to help protect an organization.
The wait is over. Since the announcement that certain Connecticut businesses would be permitted to reopen beginning May 20, 2020, most have waited with bated breath to understand what that process would and should look like. Yesterday, Governor Lamont released specific guidance for businesses covered by Phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening plan, which businesses must consider in formulating their own plans. While the wait for the plan is over, the journey back has just begun. The guidelines continue to encourage those who can work from home to work from home. They also strongly recommend that those 65 or over or with underlying health conditions that would make them more susceptible to COVID-19 (comorbidities) not return to work.
On Friday, April 17, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance on COVID-19 issues and equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws. The easy to read Q&A format is necessary reading for essential employers whose physical workspaces remain open, and for employers contemplating re-opening plans or personnel changes. The EEOC’s guidance clarifies that EEO laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), continue to apply during the pandemic, while recognizing that these laws should not interfere with applicable safety guidelines issued by the CDC and other agencies. Recent guidance addresses the following issues:
For the last several weeks, the Department of Labor has periodically updated its Families First Coronavirus Response Act: (FFCRA) “Questions and Answers” page by illustrating real-world applications of the FFCRA. We covered previous updates on March 31, 2020 and March 25, 2020. The most recent updates – questions 80-88 – illustrate common issues in computing employee hour and pay entitlements under the FFCRA, among others.
Effective April 20, 2020 at 8:00 p.m., employees in the workplace are required to wear a face mask or cloth face covering. Governor Lamont issued this directive as part of Executive Order No. 7BB, which also requires individuals in public to “cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering” when a “safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person” cannot be maintained. Connecticut follows New York’s lead once again, as New York previously implemented a substantively identical order.
On Friday, April 17, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance on COVID-19 issues and equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws. The easy to read Q&A format is necessary reading for essential employers whose physical workspaces remain open, and for employers contemplating re-opening plans or personnel changes. The EEOC’s guidance clarifies that EEO laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), continue to apply during the pandemic while recognizing that these laws should not interfere with applicable safety guidelines issued by the CDC and other agencies. Recent guidance addresses the following issues:
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) recently extended the deadline for employers to conduct mandatory sexual harassment training by 90 days. The extension applies to employees hired after the October 1, 2019 enactment of Connecticut “Time’s Up Act.” For an employer to avail itself of the extension, it will have to explain exactly how COVID-19 precluded training. Neither cost nor mobility should be hurdles, as the CHRO provides free, remote, online training that satisfies statutory requirements.
Governor Cuomo’s most recent executive order requires employees “present in the workplace” to wear “face coverings” when in “direct contact with customers or members of the public.” The order further requires that employers pay for and provide such face coverings. The order is effective Wednesday night, April 15, 2020 at 8:00pm.
On April 3, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed the 2021 New York State budget, which included paid sick leave for employees in New York State. Yes – paid sick leave that can be taken for normal, non-pandemic illnesses, among other reasons.
While society remains upended by COVID-19, Governor Cuomo stated, “we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important.” State-wide sick leave – which surely would have received more attention but for immediate COVID-19 related concerns – requires New York employers to review their paid time off and sick leave policies.
On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7V, ordering Connecticut employers to take “additional protective measures to reduce the risk” of COVID-19 transmission. The Department of Economic and Community Development supplemented the Executive Order with its “Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers,” i.e., specific, “legally binding statewide rules prescribing such additional protective measures.” Continue Reading Connecticut Issues Binding Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers