Effective July 13, 2021, Connecticut adopted a law (Senate Bill 685) that requires employers in the hotel, food service and building service industries to recall employees laid off because of COVID-19 instead of hiring new employees when job opportunities arise. Covered employers include those that conduct a covered enterprise and employ or exercise control over the wages, hours or working conditions of any employee. Covered enterprises include hotels, lodging houses, food service contractors or building services companies (including highway service plaza businesses) that employ 15 or more individuals.
Laid Off Employees. Covered laid off employees are:
- Those who were working for their employer for at least six months between March 10, 2019, and March 10, 2020;
- Those whose most recent separation from work or whose failure to be scheduled for customary seasonal work was after March 10, 2020, but before May 1, 2022; and
- Workers who were terminated because of a lack of business, reduction, or furlough caused by COVID-19 (including executive orders issued pursuant to the COVID-19 public health emergency and the civil preparedness emergency declared by the Governor on March 10, 2020).
Right to Recall. Under the law, covered employers must notify laid-off employees, in writing, of newly available job opportunities within five days. The notice must be sent to their last known physical address or email, whichever method the employer usually sends notices, and via text if the employer has their cell number. This right to recall applies to employees who are qualified for the position (same or similar position with the employer at the time of the employee’s most recent separation from active service with the employer). When more than one employee is qualified for the position, covered employers must offer the position to employees in order of seniority, beginning with the employee with the longest length of service at the employment site.
Recall Refusal. Employers that decline to rehire a laid-off employee on the basis of qualification must provide laid-off employees with a written notice within 30 days. The notice must include the reasons for the decision.
Employee Responsibilities. The law also requires employees to accept or decline a recall offer within five (calendar) days. With some conditions, an offer that is not accepted within five days will be considered declined unless the employee fails to accept the offer due to underlying conditions related to contracting COVID-19.
Employee Protections. The law prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees that exercise or seek to enforce their rights under the law.