Connecticut Governor, Ned Lamont recently issued a new Executive Order (EO 13G) that requires certain employees be vaccinated for COVID-19 by September 27, 2021. The mandate applies to: current and future state employees, state hospital employees, public and non-public pre-K to grade 12 school system employees and child care center, group child care home, family child care home, or youth camp employees, as well as certain contractors conducting business in state, school, or child care facilities (“subject employees”). The Connecticut Department of Public Health (“DPH”) recently issued a guidance that provides clarifications.

Carmody’s Labor and Employment team has received many inquiries from covered employers. We share below some frequently asked questions. It is important to note that the following questions do not cover guidance for state agency or state hospital employees, which have more rigid requirements.

1. Must all current employees be vaccinated by September 27, 2021?

No. Subject employees may choose weekly testing in lieu of vaccination. Employees choosing testing must submit weekly PCR or antigen SARS-CoV-2 test results from a test administrated and reported by a licensed clinical laboratory, pharmacy-based provider, or other healthcare provider. The test results must be submitted within 72 hours of the test being administered.

Subject employees, in the process of becoming fully vaccinated must provide documentation of a first dose (of a two dose vaccine) and proof of appointment to receive the second vaccine.

Subject employees may also obtain medical or sincerely held religious belief exemptions.

2. What must I collect from my current employees by September 27, 2021?

On or before September 27, 2021, covered employers must receive from each and every subject employee proof of vaccination and a signed declaration of authenticity. Vaccination proof includes the valid CDC vaccination card, vaccine provider record, Vaccine Administration Management System certificate, or immunization record from CT WiZ.

If a subject employee requests a medical exemption, the employer must receive a medical exemption form that is signed by either the employee’s MD, DO, PA, or APRN. A sincerely held religious belief exemption must also be documented in writing.

If a subject employee chooses to be tested in lieu of receiving the vaccine, the employee must submit weekly testing results in accordance with the information in Question 1.

Covered employers must develop a secure method for employees to submit their testing results, vaccination documentation, certificate of authenticity, and/or medical or sincerely held religious exemption documentation.

3. Are employees subject to a medical or sincerely held religious exemption required to be tested weekly? 

Yes. The Executive Order requires that any subject employee who is not fully vaccinated as of September 27, 2021 complete weekly testing in accordance with the procedure described in Question 1. The DPH guidance further clarified by specifically stating that subject employees with medical or sincerely held religious belief exemptions must comply with testing requirements.

4. Do the requirements change for employees hired after September 27, 2021? 

Yes. Employees hired after September 27, 2021 may not choose testing as an alternative. However, employees hired after September 27, 2021 with medical or sincerely held religious belief exemption remain subject to testing requirements.

5. What happens if my current employee has not submitted required documentation by September 27, 2021 or fails to submit timely testing results? 

An employee bears the responsibility of providing required documentation. A covered employer may not allow a non-compliant subject employee on premises.

6. If an employee chooses testing, who pays? 

While neither the Executive Order nor the DPH guidance directly address this issue, it appears that the employee would bear the cost of testing. This is a costly requirement as insurers are not required to provide free testing when an employee is not experiencing symptoms or has not been exposed to COVID-19. We anticipate further guidance on this issue to combat the potential conflict with wage and hour laws. There also is no guidance on payment for testing for employees subject to a medical or sincerely held religious belief exemption.

7. Are there any testing requirement waivers? 

Yes. Unvaccinated subject employees who were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days may receive a waiver from testing signed by their healthcare provider. Upon expiration of the waiver, the subject employee will immediately be required to complete weekly testing if not fully vaccinated.

8. How am I required to document employee compliance? 

Employers are required to maintain a master roster of all subject employees and the vaccination status of each employee. If a subject employee has chosen the testing alternative, the master roster must contain the weekly results. Valid waivers and exemptions must also be documented on the roster. See Appendix A-E of the DPH guidance for sample forms.

9. Is this requirement the same as President Biden’s requirement? 

No. President Biden’s “Path out of the Pandemic” vaccination requirement (only effective on the publication of an Emergency Temporary Standard) applies to employers with more than 100 employees.

10. How long will this requirement last? 

At the time of this publication, Governor Lamont’s executive authority is scheduled to end on September 30, 2021, however, it is anticipated that this executive authority will be extended to February 9, 2022 pursuant to a legislative vote occurring in the Connecticut House of Representatives on Monday, September 27, 2021 and the Connecticut Senate on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.

Carmody’s Labor & Employment attorneys are available to help you with developing policies, procedures and notices to address and comply with this executive order and any upcoming directives.

This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.