The Time to Re-Open is Days Away: You Must Be Ready or Stay Closed! We Can Help
Last week, Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont announced guidelines for the Phase 1 reopening of certain businesses beginning May 20th. These business sectors include:
- Offices (click here to link to specific protocols for this sector),
- Restaurants (click here to link to specific protocols for this sector),
- Hair Salons & Barbershops (click here to link to specific protocols for this sector),
- Museums & Zoos (click here to link to specific protocols for this sector), and
- Retail & Malls (click here to link to specific protocols for this sector),
Connecticut is one of the most recent states to put forth their Phase 1 reopening guidelines. Like most states, the guidelines demand compliance or prohibit reopening. Brody and Associates has been closely studying these requirements and is here to assist our clients.
What might be most striking to employers is the fact that “employees are encouraged to continue to work from home where possible” as it will be extremely difficult for businesses to create a completely safe work environment at this time and work from home remains the safer alternative. Additionally, the Governor explained businesses DO NOT need to reopen on May 20th just because they are in a covered sector. This is a choice for each business owner.
For those businesses that choose to bring employees back on May 20th, anytime thereafter, and for those businesses already opened, they must following guidelines. If you have questions about how your business can meet these mandates, Brody and Associates, can help. The following are some of the guidelines offices must follow if they are opened.
- Provide Personal Protection Equipment (“PPE”) to its employees. If a company cannot provide PPE’s for its staff it will not be permitted to reopen;
- Provide formal training to employees about working in a COVID-19 world (Brody and Associates can help you with this);
- Post signs in the office detailing safety protocols and procedures which are to be followed;
- Require six feet of distance between work areas with demarcations of these areas;
- Limit the use of common areas and meeting rooms as well as the use of shared office equipment. Can you justify the use of common meeting rooms rather than electronic conferences;
- Clean the office prior to reopening, as well as ongoing cleaning requirements of bathrooms and workspace; and
- Obtain and post a REOPEN CT badge to verify the business has satisfied the State’s reopening standards. This self-assessment must be done through Connecticut’s Department of Economic Development. This on-line service is expected to be available by May 18, 2020.
The State is expected to supplement these initial mandates as time to reopening draws near and possibly thereafter. Further, we anticipate other states to closely follow the framework outlined in Connecticut’s guidance.
To help our clients get back to work in a safe and legally compliant manner, Brody and Associates has put together a Back to Business Assessment and Legal Advisory Plan for COVID-19. Some of the more challenging issues you will possibly face and which the State Guidelines don’t address are outlined below.
- Unfortunately, business conditions may not warrant all employees being brought back to work at this time. If challenged, Employers will need a legitimate business justification for who was returned and who was not.
- For those employees who are not recalled, which unemployment program is best? Shared Work programs are often the best but they are only available if you apply first.
- What do you do if an employee refuses to return to work? Do you fire him or her?
- What accommodations must you give employees due to COVID-19 related issues?
We encourage you to call now to schedule your Back to Business Assessment and Legal Advisory Plan for COVID-19 in anticipation of reopening your business, whether it be in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey or elsewhere. We are here to help.
The subject matter discussed in this post can be very technical. It is an evolving area of law and very fact specific. Our goal here is to simply alert you to some of the key issues involved. We urge you to seek competent legal counsel before applying these ideas to your specific situation. Brody and Associates stands ready to discuss your particular needs.