Face Coverings Under the Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Connecticut issued executive orders requiring that only “Essential Businesses” remain open while all others were subject to stay at home orders.  However, on April 17, 2020 the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development revised the prior “Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers” providing that now all employees who are working at “Essential Businesses” which remain open during the pandemic are required to wear facemask or face coverings at all times during their employment except in a few minor circumstances. Such remain best practices and requirements as businesses begin to reopen.

The alterations to the Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers further provide that all employers who remain in operation must provide masks or face coverings to the employees who remain working.  If such is infeasible for the employer because of supply chain issues, employers are then required to provide the employees with materials to make their own masks or other appropriate face coverings.  Each employer must also provide the employees with the Center for Disease Control’s tutorial on how to make appropriate cloth face coverings.

While the newly clarified rules seem to apply to all employees, there is an exception for employees whose health would be adversely affected by wearing face coverings.  While the exemption would apply to these particular employees, no medical documentation is required from the exempt employees to qualify for the exemption.

Furthermore, in workplace settings where employees are working alone in segregated spaces (i.e. cubicles with walls, private offices, etc.), employees may remove their masks. However, workers shall wear a mask or face covering from the time they enter the building until the time they arrive at their cubicle/work station and at any time they are leaving their work station and moving around common areas (i.e. in hallways and stairwells, going to the restroom or break room, etc.). For employees working in congregate settings (i.e. open manufacturing floors, warehouses, areas open to the public, shared offices, or similar settings), those workers shall wear a face covering as above, as well as when they are at their work station.  In addition, continuous wearing of masks is not required in outdoor workspaces where employees do not regularly come within six feet of other employees.  See “Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers.”

If you have questions regarding the Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers, please contact the experienced employment lawyers at Harlow, Adams & Friedman, P.C. today at 203-878-0661 for a free consultation.

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