Connecticut is one of only a handful of states to require certain employers to provide paid sick leave to certain designated in-state workers.
The following outlines the requirements under the Connecticut Paid Sick Leave Act (the “Act”):
- The Act applies to any employer (defined as a person, firm, business, educational institution, nonprofit agency, corporation, LLC or other entity) that has at least 50 employees working within Connecticut on its payroll determined annually as of October 1st. Manufacturers (classified in Sectors 31-33 in the North American Industrial Classification System) and nationally chartered 501(c)(3) organizations that provide recreation, child care and educational services (such as the YMCA) are exempt.
- Any part-time or full-time “service workers” paid on an hourly basis or classified as non-exempt are eligible to take paid sick leave under the Act after they have completed 680 hours of employment and worked at least an average of 10 or more hours per week for the employer in the most recent complete calendar quarter. Day or temporary workers (who perform work on a per diem or occasional or irregular basis) are not eligible.
- There are 69 different categories of eligible “service workers” specifically identified as covered by the Act based on the definitions contained in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification System (“SOC”).**
- Qualifying sick leaves under the Act can be taken for any illness, injury or health condition of the service worker or his/her spouse or child or for preventative medical care for the same. A service worker who is the victim of family violence or sexual assault may also take paid leave for medical care and for other reasons related to the family violence or sexual assault (such as to obtain services from a victim services organization; to relocate due to the violence and/or assault; or to participate in any civil or criminal proceedings related to the violence and/or assault).
- Beginning on their date of hire, service workers are entitled to immediately accrue at a rate of one hour for each 40 hours worked (regular or overtime hours), up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave for each calendar year.
- Service workers who do not use their entire allotment of paid sick leave benefits in one calendar year may carry over up to 40 accrued hours to the next calendar year (but may not use more than 40 hours in each calendar year).
- If an employer terminates a service worker, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, it is considered a break in service. If the employer later rehires the service worker, it need not recognize any previously accrued unused hours of paid sick leave unless it agrees to do so.
- The 40 hours of sick leave must be paid at a rate equal to the service worker’s normal hourly rate or the minimum wage under Connecticut law, whichever is greater. Service workers whose wage rates vary must be paid the average hourly wage he/she earned in the pay period prior to the period in which he/she takes sick leave.
- An employer is not obligated to pay accrued sick leave benefits upon a service worker’s termination unless the employer provides for such payment in its policies or in a collective bargaining agreement.
- The Act operates as a floor below which employers subject to the Act may not fall. However, an employer will be deemed fully compliant with the Act if the employer offers any form(s) of paid leave benefits that satisfy the minimum 40 hours of paid sick leave under the Act. For these purposes, other paid leave benefits might include paid vacation, personal days or other paid time off. To get “credit” for compliance under the Act for having existing paid leave policies, employers must ensure such policies are not predicated on longer eligibility provisions, do not mandate different accrual methods and do not restrict the use of paid time in any manner that is inconsistent with the types of leave mandated by the Act.
- Employers may require service workers to provide up to seven days’ notice of the need to take paid sick leave under the Act if the need for leave is foreseeable; if the leave is not foreseeable, then the service worker must give notice as soon as practicable.
- Employers may require documentation from a health care provider for leaves taken for three or more consecutive days, for leave taken due to the illness, injury or health condition, or for preventative medical care, for the service worker or his/her spouse or child. Employers may require a court record or documentation from a victim services organization, the police or counselor for leave taken due to family violence or sexual assault issues.
- Employers are required to provide notice, at the time of hiring, regarding the service worker’s entitlement to sick leave, and to specifically advise service workers that employers are prohibited from retaliating against them (as further described below) and that the service worker has a right to file a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Labor for violations of the Act (as further described below). Employers may comply with this notice obligation by posting a notice (in both English and Spanish) in a conspicuous location incorporating these requirements.
- The Act prohibits employers from taking retaliatory action or otherwise discriminating against employees because the employee requests or uses paid sick leave or files a complaint with the CT Dept. of Labor regarding leave under the Act. Note that the anti-retaliation provision applies more broadly to any employee of an employer who is covered by the Act, not just the service workers who are entitled to take leave under the Act. The Act does not prohibit disciplinary action against any service worker who takes leave for a purpose other than those specified in the Act.
- Complaints for violations of the Act will be handled by the CT Dept. of Labor, which is empowered to hold hearings, and which may assess a civil penalty of $500.00 for a violation of the retaliation and discrimination provisions, and a civil penalty of $100.00 for each violation of the substantive provisions (or notice provision) of the Act. The Labor Commissioner is also empowered to require an offending employer to rehire or reinstate an employee and to pay back wages and benefits.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and have questions about labor and employment law, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. Each of us has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of employment and labor law and can help you with this complicated topic. Please call us if we can help you.
**The categories of “service workers” covered under the Act are as follows: Food Service Managers; Medical and Health Services Managers; Social Workers; Social and Human Service Assistants; Community Health Workers; Community and Social Service Specialists, All Other; Librarians; Pharmacists; Physician Assistants; Therapists; Registered Nurses; Nurse Anesthetists; Nurse Midwives; Nurse Practitioners; Dental Hygienists; Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics; Health Practitioner Support Technologists and Technicians; Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses; Home Health Aides; Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants; Psychiatric Aides; Dental Assistants; Medical Assistants; Security Guards; Crossing Guards; Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers; Cooks; Food Preparation Workers; Bartenders; Fast Food and Counter Workers; Waiters and Waitresses; Food Servers, Nonrestaurant; Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers; Dishwashers; Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge and Coffee Shop; Miscellaneous Food Preparation and Serving Related Workers; Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners; Building Cleaning Workers, All Other; Ushers, Lobby Attendants and Ticket Takers; Barbers, Hairdressers, Hairstylists and Cosmetologists; Baggage Porters, Bellhops and Concierges; Child Care Workers; Personal Care Aides; First-Line Supervisors of Sales Workers; Cashiers; Counter and Rental Clerks; Retail Salespersons; Tellers; Hotel, Motel and Resort Desk Clerks; Receptionists and Information Clerks; Couriers and Messengers; Secretaries and Administrative Assistants; Computer Operators; Data Entry and Information Processing Workers; Desktop Publishers; Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks; Mail Clerks and Mail Machine Operators, Except Postal Service; Office Clerks, General; Office Machine Operators, Except Computer; Proofreaders and Copy Markers; Statistical Assistants; Miscellaneous Office and Administrative Support Workers; Bakers; Butchers and Other Meat, Poultry and Fish Processing Workers; Miscellaneous Food Processing Workers; Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians; Bus Drivers; Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs; Radiologic Technicians.
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