Boards, Taskforces Spend Summer Tackling Labor and Employment Issues

Issues & Policies

While businesses slow down during the summer, many state-created boards and legislative task forces often face active schedules.
The summer of 2016 will be a busy one, with several new boards and task forces examining various aspects of employment law.
In addition, a task force created in the 2015 session will continue work on wage related issues, with the foregone conclusion it will push for a higher minimum wage next year.
Here is a brief summary of some of the more notable groups and anticipated activity over the next few months.

Retirement Mandate Authority

With the ink barely dry on the bills creating and amending the state’s newest business mandate, lawmakers must name appointees to the Connecticut Retirement Security Authority by January 1, 2017.
CRSA is the quasi-public authority responsible for implementing the retirement mandate adopted by the General Assembly this year.
This new mandate applies to businesses with five or more employees, and requires employers to automatically enroll any employee not eligible for an employer-sponsored retirement plan into an approved IRA plan on an exchange created by the authority.
The business community opposed this program during the legislative session because of the number of new administrative tasks and obligations.
The mandate likely will have a negative impact on many local banks and insurance brokers once the state enters the retirement market.

The legislation calls for employers to begin enrolling employees into the exchange by January 1, 2018.

The authority is responsible for hiring vendors needed to establish the program, approving retirement plans, and creating informational materials employers will be required to distribute.
CRSA also will determine the penalties that will be imposed on businesses for failing to comply with the new mandate.
The legislation calls for employers to begin enrolling employees into the exchange by January 1, 2018.
CBIA will be monitoring all authority meetings.

Ban the Box Task Force

A task force passed in the final hours of the legislative session already faces an uncertain future.
The fair chance task force was created by the "Ban the Box" bill (HB 5237) that prohibits most employers from placing any questions about a prospective employee's criminal history on job applications after January 1, 2017.
Under the bill, the task force is required to study issues regarding the employment opportunities available to individuals with criminal histories, and then report to the General Assembly's Labor and Judiciary committees.
The only problem: the staff of the African American Affairs Commission is supposed to serve as the administrative staff of the task force.
This commission was one of several recently consolidated into a new commission on equity and opportunity.
It is unclear if this task force will be a priority for this new commission, or if it will be abandoned due to resource limitations.

Low Wage Employer Advisory Board

The Connecticut Low Wage Employer Advisory Board was created in the 2015 session and continues its mission to advise various public officials on wage rates in the state.
The board was created under the faulty premise that Connecticut businesses aren't paying market wages. Further, its true mission is to promote and give government legitimacy to organized labor's agenda as it relates to wages.

CBIA will monitor this board closely to ensure it does not become an echo chamber used to drive organized labor's anti-business agenda.

For example, during the 2016 legislative session, the board considered whether to support a bill that would tax certain employers that failed to pay employees at least $15 per hour, despite the devastating impact such a measure would have on Connecticut's business climate and economy.
The board will meet monthly throughout the summer to work on a report to the state legislature.
Although no study on the minimum wage has been conducted by the board, a co-chair stated at the April meeting that the December report should focus on raising the minimum wage.
Another co-chair, Jamie Mills, a deputy secretary with the state's Office of Policy and Management, agreed, noting that "consideration of raising the minimum wage should be a priority for this year, while other issues can be considered in subsequent years".
CBIA will continue monitoring this board closely to ensure it does not simply become an echo chamber used to drive organized labor's anti-business agenda.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede (860.244.1931) | @egjede


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