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Connecticut Becomes First State to Enact Law Mandating Paid Sick Days

July 2011

Overview

On June 3, 2011, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 913 by a vote of 76–65; the Senate had previously passed the bill by a vote of 18–17. The act, mandating that employers provide paid sick leave to service workers, was signed by the Governor July 1, 2011, and takes effect January 1, 2012, making Connecticut the first state to have mandatory paid sick days.

Background

The bill will affect an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 service workers in the state. Only the cities of San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have similar laws with respect to paid sick days. The bill had been introduced in the past, but never garnered enough support for passage. The backing of Governor Dannel Malloy and House Speaker Christopher Donovan was seen as the driving force behind the passage of the bill. Chief opponents included the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Connecticut Restaurant Association and the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association.

Proponents of the bill contend that it is a major victory for workers’ rights as well as good for public health, keeping sick employees from interacting with food and preventing the spread of illness. Opponents believe that the bill could be a “job killer” and sends the wrong message to businesses in Connecticut.

Legislation

The bill requires employers with more than 50 workers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked for hourly service workers. Employees will be able to use up to 40 hours a year and carry over up to 40 hours into the next year.

Exemptions: Manufacturing and nationally chartered nonprofit employers are exempt from the law. Salaried employees, professionals, independent contractors, daily workers and temporary workers are also exempt. Employers who have equal or more generous policies relating to paid sick days are exempt from the provisions of the law.

Eligibility: To be eligible to receive paid sick days from the employer, employees must work 680 hours and an average of at least 10 hours a week in the previous calendar quarter. Employees will be able to use the time for their or their spouse’s or child’s illness, injury and treatment, as well as for reasons related to sexual assault or family violence.

Fines: Employers who violate the general provisions of the law are subject to a $100 fine. Employers are also subject to a $500 fine if they violate the retaliatory provisions of the law prohibiting firing, demoting or discriminating against an employee using sick days.

Conclusion

This law will have a major effect on employers throughout the state of Connecticut. Affected employers should review their policies related to paid sick days prior to January 1, 2012, to ensure compliance with the law. Employers who do not provide paid sick days should develop policies that meet the requirements of the law.

Wilson Elser’s Connecticut Government Affairs and Employment & Labor practices are committed to keeping their clients informed on all legislative and employment-related matters.

For more information, please contact:

David Rose
Partner-Connecticut
Government Affairs
203.388.2438
david.rose@wilsonelser.com

Stephen Brown
Partner-Connecticut
Employment & Labor
203.388.2450
stephen.brown@wilsonelser.com

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