CLIENT UPDATE

Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson LLP
521 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10175
Tel: (212) 682-0020

 

June 10, 2011

Connecticut Requires Paid Sick Leave

On June 8, 2011, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed a law requiring covered employers to provide paid sick leave for service workers.  The law takes effect January 1, 2012. 

Under the law, service workers will accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave per 40 hours worked.  Employees can use their accrued leave in the event of personal illness, injury, and related treatment of the employee, his or her spouse, or child.  Employees are also entitled to use their paid sick leave for preventative medical care, or when the employee is a victim of family violence or sexual assault. 

Covered Employers

The law applies to employers who have 50 or more employees in Connecticut during any one quarter in the previous calendar year.  The law excludes certain employers, including manufacturing businesses and non-profit organizations. 

Covered Employees

The new sick leave requirements only extend to “service workers.”  The law defines “service workers” as those employees who are paid by the hour or subject to minimum wage and overtime requirements, who work in one of the 68 federal Standard Occupational Classification System titles listed in the law.  This list includes nurses, security guards, food preparation workers, and child care workers.  Section 1(7) of the law contains the full list of classified occupations that qualify as “service workers,” and is accessible here.  Salaried professionals as well as day laborers and other temporary workers are not covered by the law.

Covered service workers will begin accruing leave time on January 1, 2012.  Any service workers hired after this date will begin accruing leave time on their date of employment.  To begin using leave time, a covered employee must have worked for the employer for at least 680 hours, and the employee must have worked an average of at least 10 hours per week in the most recent quarter.

Employee Accrual

Under the law, employees may accrue a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave each year.  Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused accrued hours of paid sick leave from year-to-year, but can only use 40 hours of paid sick leave in any year.        

Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements

The law provides that its provisions do not diminish rights provided to an employee through a collective bargaining agreement or preempt the terms of any collective bargaining agreement effective prior to January 1, 2012.  According to this language, it appears that the terms of any collective bargaining agreement which takes effect prior to January 1, 2012 will override the requirements of the law for the duration of the agreement.  For any collective bargaining agreement which takes effect on or after January 1, 2012, employers will have to provide at least as much paid sick leave as required by the law. 

Enforcement

Employers are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against employees who lawfully request or use leave time.  Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against any employee who files a complaint with the Labor Commissioner alleging an employer’s violation of the law. 

Employees may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner to report an employer’s non-compliance with the law.  The Connecticut Department of Labor may conduct hearings to determine employers’ compliance and impose penalties for violations of the law.  Employers who are found to have violated the law may be liable for penalties up to $500 for each violation of the retaliation provision, and up to $100 for each violation of the law’s other provisions.

In addition, the Commissioner can extend relief to the aggrieved employee.  This relief may include payment for unused leave, rehiring or reinstatement to the employee’s previous position, back wages, and reinstatement of benefits.

Notice Requirement

All employers who are subject to the law must provide notice to service workers when they are hired.  The notice must alert service workers of their entitlement to leave, that the employer is prohibited from retaliating against the employee for requesting or using leave time, and that the employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any employer violation.  Employers can satisfy the notice requirement by posting the required information, in both English and Spanish, in an accessible location.

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Connecticut is the first state in the country to require this type of paid leave.  If you have questions about Connecticut’s new paid leave requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us.