Connecticut has introduced a law that requires some workers that have been laid-off to be recalled in order of seniority. The new law is called An Act Requiring Employers to Recall Certain Laid-Off Workers in Order of Seniority (Act); the law applies to building services enterprises, lodging houses, hotels, and food service contractors with at least 15 employees in Connecticut even if the employees have a collective bargaining agreement.
An employee is covered if they were employed for a minimum of six out of the twelve months prior to March 10th, 2020, and were let go due to furlough, lack of business, or force reductions related to the pandemic. An employee would be considered qualified if they held a job similar to the one being hired for or could be trained for the position the same as a new hire.
Employers must provide written notification within five days of a position becoming available through either the employee’s address or email, and if a cell phone number is available, then text as well. If the job is the same or similar to the employee’s former position, then most of the former position’s compensation and classifications must remain substantively the same as those that applied just prior to March 10th, 2020.
Offers should be made in order of seniority, starting with the former employee that had the longest length of service. This individual must be given five days to reject or accept the offer. Then if the employee declines the offer, an employer should proceed to work through all other qualified former employees offering them the same opportunity. If a former employee declines their right to be rehired due to conditions caused by COVID-19 that was diagnosed prior to May 1st, 2021, then they will retain their right to be rehired for future positions for which they are qualified as well.
If an employer decides to hire anyone other than a laid-off employee due to a lack of qualifications, then they must provide the former employee with a written statement providing the reasons within 30 days. The law also provides former employees with protection against layoffs within 30 days of rehiring and adverse action for exercising their rights under the Act.
Connecticut employers should ensure their policies for rebuilding their workforce in the wake of the pandemic abide by these new rules. Violations of any of the new law’s provisions may result in civil actions and significant sanctions, including both punitive and compensatory damages, as well as back pay and reinstatement or rehiring for damaged employees.