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.”

The DECD rules largely codify familiar guidance issued through Governor Lamont’s executive orders, the CDC, and OSHA. For example:

  • Sick employees must stay home, including employees with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Employers should make hand sanitizer available to employees who do not have ready access to soap and water.
  • Employers should encourage good hygiene.
  • Employers should develop social distancing policies.
  • Eliminate in-person meetings.
  • Where possible, close or restrict break rooms and cafeterias.
  • Eliminate non-essential travel.
  • Prohibit non-essential visitors.

The DECD rules also address construction site specific practices, such as:

  • Clean portable bathrooms no less than every 2 days.
  • Provide an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Maximize outdoors work.
  • Shift work to limit crew size on jobsite, especially indoors.
  • Rotate lunch and coffee break shifts to maximize social distancing.
  • Require employees to travel separately to, from, and within worksites.

Finally, the DECD reiterates its Essential Safe Store Rules, effective as of April 3, 2020. The Safe Store Rules address occupancy caps, store layout guidelines meant to maximize social distancing, and managing customer flow.

While many of the DECD’s rules seem familiar and intuitive, they are now “legally binding” and non-compliance could subject employers to penalties. Governor Lamont recently remarked that the Connecticut Department of Labor will enforce the DECD rules through site inspections to assess compliance. These inspections will generally target large employers, but Governor Lamont urged employees of smaller employers to report non-compliance.

We urge Connecticut employers to review the DECD’s rules, including the Safe Stores Rules, and develop and implement compliant policies and procedures as applicable. If you need assistance or have any questions, Murtha’s employment law group is available to help.