Q: What are companies doing with regards to allowing employees to travel outside Connecticut during the summer vacation season?
If an employee leaves Connecticut for vacation this summer, are they required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work as federal and state government guidance suggests?
A: With the summer vacation season upon us and the pent up desire to get out and about, this is likely to be an increasingly common question or concern.
We don't have any data on how companies will administer vacation plans. However, it doesn't appear that state and federal health officials' guidance is as restrictive as suggested above.
The following reflects what appears to be the latest restrictions and recommended practices concerning workers who have recently traveled.
It's admittedly inconsistent and we don't have any information to indicate whether less or more restrictive approaches are warranted, which leaves employers free to tilt in whichever direction they prefer.
The state of Connecticut and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make a variety of references to travel.
Both primarily recommend against travel unless essential for personal or work purposes, but as noted below, there is no uniform message on what approach employers should take.
What that means is all options are within reach.
The state's basic guidance contains the following statement, without distinguishing between Connecticut residents returning from travel, or visitors coming here:
Travelers: Any person coming into Connecticut by any mode of transportation for any reason is strongly urged to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Additional guidance from the state, included in the Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers, includes the following references to travel:
For employees who have traveled internationally in a region where COVID-19 is active, or have returned from a cruise, it is recommended to stay home and self-monitor for 14 days, subsequent to returning.
Eliminate all non-essential workplace travel.
The state strongly encourages all Connecticut residents to avoid travel out of state, if possible, to slow the spread of COVID-19.
For those scheduled to travel out of the country, or are returning to the United States from abroad, the CDC recommends a 14-day isolation period and additional monitoring and screening.
Bottom line, while there's no definitive approach recommended by all, it is clearly within management's options to direct the employee to remain away for 14 days, more or less, and report the presence or absence of symptoms during that time.
If the employee is not experiencing any adverse symptoms while under quarantine and there is work that can be accomplished offsite, they might be given a remote/teleworking assignment as a means of remaining productive and earning wages.
If a work from home arrangement is not feasible, the employee would most likely be eligible for unemployment benefits during that time, including the added $600 weekly amount under the federal supplemental CARES Act program, lessening the financial burden on the employee, albeit leaving management without a needed worker.