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Eric Brown: Workplace hazards keep us, as patriots, away from travel

Eric Brown: Workplace hazards keep us, as patriots, away from travel

Bus operator Cathy Davis-Baker gets a COVID test as part of an initiative by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to test its workers Tuesday in New York. Americans have to continue to do the right thing — whether it’s not traveling to red-listed states or wearing masks – to protect each other. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

I am writing this as the first snowfall of the season is blanketing my neighborhood. It has got me thinking about the holidays, the election, and what our first and hopefully last COVID winter is going to look like.

Like many of you, I have fatigue about the pandemic. I would like to think that it is not dangerous. I would like to think that everything is fine. I would like to think that I really can just live my life as usual.

But I don’t believe it.

And so I am living my life like almost everyone else. Tentatively, with hints of bravado from time to time, and moments of regret at other times. My life as an adult has run in a rhythm. I have regular activities that I enjoy at different times of the week, month and year.

Those are gone now for the most part, except when the bravado strikes.

Still, I am lucky by any standard. I work from home. I limit my exposure to potential COVID carriers. I am surrounded by people I love and I can continue to make a living. Nobody that I care about has suffered any illness associated with the virus.

But I am not optimistic about the winter. I expect that Gov. Lamont is going to tighten up restrictions associated with COVID as the infection rates continue to rise in the state. Connecticut has done a great job in preventing the spread, mostly because almost everybody, regardless of politics, class, or community, wears a mask. It is a credit to us Nutmeggers, really. We have managed to keep each other safe for the most part.

I suspect that the state is going to impose tighter restrictions on travel even during the holidays. Now many will say that nothing is going to keep them from seeing their cousins or grandchildren or parents. However, the enforcement will come at the employment level.

If you leave the state, you will likely have to report that to your employer. And if you fail to report and jeopardize the health and safety of your co-workers, you will likely suffer disciplinary consequences up to termination. So there is great risk, not only to your health, but to your job security if you defy governmental restrictions on travel.

By now we should be in a place where rapid testing is readily available. Structures and plans for the autumn surge should have started in March. Sadly, they did not, so here we are faced with the same problems we faced in the spring. Not enough testing. Not enough tracing. And as a result, restrictions on our freedom of movement.

If you end up facing restrictions at work as a result of travel, you will want to get answers to important questions. Will you be able to use paid time off if you are forced to quarantine? Will you be able to avoid a state-imposed quarantine if you get a timely negative test?

There are no legal requirements that you be paid for quarantine time. However, you may be eligible for paid quarantine time under the CARES Act for up to 80 hours if you are subject to a governmental order to quarantine or you are experiencing symptoms of COVID.

Let’s be honest. The pandemic is terrible. But we all have to do our part to keep our communities safe. If that means that we will have to forego travel this coming holiday season, then it is the price we are going to have to pay. It is a patriotic responsibility.

Eric Brown, who writes a weekly column, is an attorney with offices in Connecticut. He can be reached at 888-579-4222 or online at thelaborlawyer.com.

Source: www.rep-am.com

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