Connecticut has enacted legislation (Senate Bill 658) that requires certain employers to offer positions that become available to qualified employees they previously laid off. Senate Bill 658 took effect immediately.
Covered employers include the following entities if they employ 15 or more employees:
· Hotels and lodging houses,
· Food service contractors, and
· Building services companies.
Individuals are covered by the law if:
· They were employed by a covered employer for six months or more in the 12 months preceding March 10, 2020;
· Their most recent separation from active service or their failure to be scheduled for customary seasonal work occurred after March 10, 2020 and before May 1, 2022; and
· Their separation was due to lack of business or a reduction or furlough of the employer’s workforce due to COVID-19, including executive orders issued pursuant to the public health emergency and the civil preparedness emergency declared by the governor on March 10, 2020.
Notice to the State:
Within 30 days of laying off an employee, a covered employer must submit an affidavit to the Connecticut Department of Labor indicating the reasons for the layoff. The requirement remains in effect for any layoff by a covered employer prior to May 1, 2022.
Right to Recall:
Within five days of a job becoming available, the employer must notify each laid-off employee who is qualified that the position is available. Where more than one employee is qualified, the employer must offer the position to the employee with the greatest length of service at the work site.
Under the law, a laid-off employee is qualified for a position if they:
· Held the same or similar position at the time of their most recent separation from active service; or
· Are or can be qualified with the same training that would be provided to a new employee hired for the position.
The job offer must be at substantially the same employment site. If the individual held the same or similar position before the layoff, the offer must be in the same classification or job title and with substantially the same duties, compensation, benefits, and working conditions in effect immediately prior to March 10, 2020.
Method of Notice of Recall:
The recall notice must be sent in writing to the laid-off employee's last known physical address or e-mail address, whichever is the usual and customary means of providing notices between the employer and employee, and in a text message if the employer has the employee’s mobile phone number.
Timeframe for Accepting or Declining Offer:
The laid-off employee must be given at least five days to accept or decline the offer. If a laid-off employee declines an offer due to COVID-19 diagnosed on or before May 1, 2021, as evidenced by a medical note to the employer, the employee retains the right to accept an available position until both: (1) the expiration of the public health and civil preparedness emergencies, and (2) the laid-off employee is reoffered a position.
Laid-off employees who are rehired under the law must be employed for at least 30 days, unless the employer has just cause for the employee's termination earlier. The law doesn’t define what is considered just cause.
Employers that decline to rehire a laid-off employee on the grounds of lack of qualifications and instead hire another individual must provide to the laid-off employee a written notice within 30 days. The notice must include the reasons for the decision.
Employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against workers for exercising their rights under the law. An employer that terminates, refuses to reemploy, or takes any other adverse action must provide to the impacted employee a detailed written statement of the reasons for the decision.
Covered employers that lay off employees prior to May 1, 2022 should ensure compliance with Senate Bill 658 whenever positions become available. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.