HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- With the coronavirus spreading, employers are now reviewing their policies when it comes to sick time.

A number of companies in Connecticut now have restrictions on travel and meetings, but employees are asking about what happens if they do actually get sick.

On Monday, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro was pushing for new nationwide sick-time requirements in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.

“For so many workers, including restaurant workers, truck drivers, people in the service industry and more, staying home from work means losing a paycheck or losing your job,” DeLauro said during a conference call on Monday.

The bill would require all companies to offer seven paid sick days, with a provision for 14 during a public health crisis.

Many employers have taken steps to limit workers exposure to the coronavirus. But so far few, if any, have changed their policies for sick leave.

“If that actually happened in our system, we would take a look at how we could all participate on providing, maybe sick days to our fellow employees,” said Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.

Unions are joining the push for more flexibility on sick time.

The vice president of AFT Connecticut wrote on the union’s website “the nature of our work also means that we're also among the most at-risk for exposure. Protocols for ensuring their well-being are critical.”

The union represents roughly 10,000 healthcare workers in Connecticut, as well as teachers.

However, employers are hoping other changes will reduce risks of widespread infections.

“Thankfully, thus far, we have not seen much of an impact, but as things progress or do not progress, we'll have to see where things go,” said Sean Burns, spokesman for Ticket Network.

Companies like South Windsor-based Ticket Network are reminding employees of best practices. Others, like UTC, Sikorsky, and Stanley Black and Decker, are limiting travel to high risk countries.

A spokeswoman for Sikorsky parent Lockheed Martin said in a statement “the safety of our employees is our number one priority. We are working in coordination with the U.S. government and will continue to assess the situation.”

The same goes for Connecticut’s insurance giants. A spokesman for Aetna said “we are actively monitoring the current international and domestic environment for coronavirus-related risks and preparing accordingly. This includes developing travel, work from home, and other HR-related guidance to help employees stay safe and healthy.”

On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont also implemented similar restrictions for state employees. The state is also re-evaluating all gatherings all events for 100 or more people.

“We're trying to make sure that people adhere to the travel restrictions that we put into place and also large gatherings,” Ojakian said.

The state is currently looking at all large gatherings through April 30. But the state universities and community colleges will begin talking about whether graduations can happen as scheduled.

“So we can understand what we can do and what we can't do, and whether we need to make some adjustments to the schedule,” Ojakian said.

A bill similar to DeLauro’s has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, where the virus has been blamed for at least 18 deaths.

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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