Labor Committee Expands Paid Sick Leave, Adds New Mandates
The legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee approved a series of costly new workplace mandates this week, including two bills expanding the state’s paid sick leave statute.
This session, the committee passed bills that: allow striking workers to collect unemployment benefits; ban noncompete agreements; expand the 2021 salary disclosure law; broaden paid family and medical leave; restrict scheduling; and set minimum pay for rideshare and delivery drivers.
“Connecticut’s already the sixth costliest state to run a business according to CNBC’s 2022 America’s Top States for Business study,” said CBIA’s Eric Gjede.
“These new and expanded mandates will only drive up those costs, particularly for small businesses, many of which have yet to emerge from the pandemic recession.”
Paid Sick Leave
Connecticut employers with 50 or more employees currently must provide paid sick leave to each of their in-state, full, or part-time service workers.
Employers with 10 or fewer employers must provide 40 hours of unpaid sick leave to all employees.
Proposed by the Lamont administration and considered to be something of a compromise measure, the bill also accelerates the rate that leave is accumulated and can be used.
- Cover all private sector employers and employees
- Broaden the range of family members employees may use leave for
- Increase the rate at which employees accrue leave
- Broaden reasons employees may use leave
- Increase the maximum amount of leave from 40 to 80 hours
FMLA, Salary Disclosure
SB 1179 amends both the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Act and Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act to include tribal enterprises and transit districts and prohibit disability benefits from being offset by benefits received under those programs.
The two likely outcomes of this bill, which passed 8-4, will be employees remaining out of the workforce for longer periods of time and employers electing to drop short term disability coverage.
The bill passed despite the fact that a state law enacted in 2021 already requires employers to disclose the salary range at the time an offer is made or upon the request of a job candidate.
Businesses supported the 2021 law because it allowed for a conversation with the applicant about non-wage benefits.
SB 489 prohibits employers from requiring an employee to work more than six consecutive days without a day off during the six-day period.
This bill was approved 8-4 and overlooks the possibility of another public health emergency, major storm requiring utility restoration, or the needs of many major industries in the state that negotiated for longer work weeks during critical operational periods in exchange for premium pay and extended time off.
HB 6859 requires employers in the retail, food service, hospitality or long-term healthcare industries with 500 or more employees or more than 30 locations to provide 14 days advanced notice to certain employees of work schedules.
Under the bill, which passed 8-4, employers must make an effort to provide employees with their requested days of the week and number of hours.
Labor Standards, Ridesharing
A few niche industries also made it into the committee’s crosshairs, as shown by the following bills.
HB 6862 implements oversight, accountability, and labor standards for the state’s expenditure of broadband funds received pursuant to federal funds.
SB 1180 establishes reciprocity with neighboring states to allow Connecticut drivers to pick up passengers in those states and to require network companies to:
- Provide network workers with minimum pay per trip
- Provide trip receipts to both drivers and passengers
- Pay for other fees incurred during trips
The committee approved two other mandates earlier in the session.
SB 938 allows striking employees to collect unemployment benefits after a period of two consecutive weeks striking, despite meeting none of the eligibility requirements.
During a public hearing, one union leader after another noted that a strike “is the most difficult choice you can make”—notwithstanding the fact unemployment benefits were meant for those who became unemployed through no fault, or choice, of their own.
HB 6594 invalidates noncompete agreements unless a variety of conditions are met, including:
- The employee is not a salaried worker
- The employee subjectively believes employment ended because of good cause attributable to the employer
- The employee doesn’t make at least three times the minimum wage or is an independent contractor is not making at least five times the minimum wage
The committee did use a placeholder bill to accommodate a proposal suggested by CBIA.
HB 6789 allows the suspension without pay of salaried, exempt managers and supervisors that violate written workplace harassment or violence policies for days rather than weeks at a time to allow for incremental discipline.
The bill, which was approved unanimously, allows employers to treat salaried and non-salaried workers that violate such policies in a similar manner, just as they currently are under federal law.
A bipartisan group of committee leaders, including Rep. Manny Sanchez (D-New Britain) and Rep. Tim Ackert (R-Coventry), supported the proposal, demonstrating a commitment to much-needed collaboration.
The business community has a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. Now is the time for Connecticut employers to reach out to their elected officials and voice their concerns.
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