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Connecticut Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

July 5, 2011

Employers with 50 or more people in Connecticut, both public and private sectors, must provide certain hourly employees with paid sick leave. The act’s language does not clearly state that it covers the public sector. However, from review of Office of Legislative Research analysis of the law, it appears that the state believes it does cover the public sector, including the state itself, municipalities and public school districts. Employees are to accrue such time at a rate of one hour per 40 hours worked. The new act is limited to specific classes of employees. Among the covered employees are office workers, nurses and other health care workers, and food preparers and other food service workers. To review the list of employees which are set out in the law and their service worker classifications, please click here.

Beginning January 1, 2012 covered workers will begin to accrue paid sick leave but must meet certain eligibility requirements. Specifically, they must have (1) worked for the employer for at least 680 hours, and (2) have worked an average of at least 10 hours per week for that employer in the most recently completed calendar quarter. The accrued paid sick leave can be used for the employee’s own illness, injury or related treatment, and also for the illness, injury or treatment of the worker’s spouse or child. In addition, the accrued paid time can be used for reasons related to family violence or sexual assault.

If an employer already offers other types of paid time off that can be used for the same purposes as permitted under the new act, and such leave accrues at least as quickly as the new law requires, then the employer will be in compliance with the new requirements.

The law excludes manufacturers and certain national tax-exempt organizations from its requirements. Employers are not required to provide paid sick leave to day or temporary workers, or to employees properly classified as exempt from overtime, including salaried professionals.

The law is going to be administered by the Department of Labor which will have authority to investigate and impose penalties for non-compliance. There is also a provision that prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who request or use sick leave accrued under the new law. Employers may require employees using sick leave for three or more consecutive days to produce reasonable documentation verifying the leave's purpose. Employees will also have a notice obligation, and must provide notice of foreseeable use of sick leave at least seven days in advance, and as much leave as practicable for unforeseen leave.

Finally, employers must provide notice to employees at time of hire of the rights and protections of the law which may be met by a reference in a letter of hire, a handbook that is distributed at the time of hiring or a workplace posting.

NOTE: Although we posted this alert in advance of his doing so, Governor Malloy has now signed the new act. We posted our alert at the earliest possible time based on certain rules controlling the state's legislative process that automatically make a new act operative based on the number of days that have passed since the adjournment of the regular legislative session. In addition, we continue to anticipate the guidance we understand the Department of Labor is preparing for implementing the law.

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