Connecticut Mandates Vaccination for Employees of Broadly Defined ‘Long-Term Care Facilities’
Connecticut is requiring certain healthcare employees be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Connecticut joins other states, including Washington and Massachusetts, in mandating vaccination.
Connecticut’s Executive Order, issued on August 6, 2021, requires employees of long-term care facilities be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Executive Order broadly defines “Long-term care facility” to include:
Residential care homes;
Assisted living services agencies;
Intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities;
Managed residential communities; and
Chronic disease hospitals.
The Order requires that, by September 7, 2021, current employees, volunteers, and contractors with physical access to patients or residents must:
Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19; or
Have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and received a second dose or have an appointment scheduled to receive the second dose (if not a single-dose vaccine).
Similarly, long-term care facilities cannot extend an offer of employment to an individual, enter into a contract with an individual (or entity providing individuals), or allow anyone to begin volunteering, who will have physical access to a patient or resident, unless the above vaccination requirements have been satisfied.
If an individual fails to receive the second dose of a two-dose vaccination at their scheduled appointment without good cause, long-term care facilities “shall not” employ or contract for services from that individual. The Executive Order does not define “good cause.”
The Executive Order provides religious and medical exemptions.
Authentication, Reporting Requirements
Long-term care facilities are required to authenticate the vaccination status of the individuals subject to the Order (i.e., current and prospective employees, volunteers, and contractors with physical access to patients or residents), maintain documentation of vaccination or exemption of those individuals, and report compliance with the Executive Order in a form that will be directed by the Department of Public Health.
Failure to comply with the Executive Order will result in a $20,000 per day fine.
The Executive Order is effective immediately, but essentially provides one month (until September 7, 2021) for applicable employees, independent contractors, and volunteers to become fully vaccinated or receive their first dose and schedule the second dose of a two-dose vaccine.
With a short turnaround on compliance, employers subject to this Executive Order should review these requirements to ensure their policies and procedures meet the deadline and communicate the requirements to their employees. Additionally, employers should continue to consider additional consequences of this Executive Order, including:
Wage and hour considerations associated with mandatory vaccines;
Reasonable accommodation obligations; and
Potential labor implications in unionized workforces.
Employers within Connecticut and elsewhere should continue to monitor this growing industry trend.