Guidance for Employers On Accommodating the Child Care Needs of Employees Amidst COVID-19 School Closures
Empty Classroom

Following Governor Lamont’s declaration of a public health emergency in the State of Connecticut, on March 12, 2020 the Governor issued an Executive Order exempting schools that close due to COVID-19 risks from the obligation to hold 180 school day sessions for the 2019-2020 school year. Accordingly, March 13th saw the closure of well over 100 Connecticut schools, a number that is only expected to increase. Given this trend, and the potential closure of daycare facilities in the future, now is the time for employers to decide how they will accommodate employees in need of child care.

Employers should first review their employee handbooks to determine what policies apply and how. If the employer’s paid time off policy does not specifically address this issue, does the employer want to allow employees to use PTO to care for a child home from school, regardless of whether the child is sick?

Some employers may also consider allowing employees to bring their children to work. If an employer decides to allow children in the workplace, we recommend that the employer (1) carefully implement and clearly communicate its policy to employees, and (2) require that employees who bring their children to work sign a waiver of liability.

Children at Work Policy: A written policy should describe the parameters in place for employees bringing their children to work. We recommend that the policy address: the level of independence children must have in order to be allowed in the workplace, where in the workplace the children will be located, and who will be responsible for children in the workplace. It is also particularly important in the current circumstances that the policy prohibit any children who are experiencing symptoms of illness, or who have been exposed to anyone experiencing symptoms of illness, from coming to the workplace. Employers may want to consider temperature-testing each child daily upon arrival at the workplace.

Children at Work Waiver: The employer should require that all employees who bring children to work sign a waiver acknowledging that the employer is not responsible for exposure of the child to illnesses or workplace hazards, and a certification by the parent that their child is not experiencing symptoms of illness and has not been exposed to anyone experiencing symptoms of illness.

If you are considering allowing employees to bring their children to work, our Labor & Employment attorneys can assist you in developing appropriate policies and waivers.  

Posted in COVID-19

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Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits practice on such workplace topics as labor and employment law, counseling and training, litigation, union issues, as well as employee benefits and ERISA matters.

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