Labor and employment legislation: ‘Too close for comfort’ on bad proposals
The 2009 session of the General Assembly was very challenging for Connecticut employers on the labor front. Several attempts were made to pass legislation that would have put businesses at a serious competitive disadvantage.
Major proposals such as the paid sick leave mandate and the “captive audience” measure (to limit workplace communications) went far in the session before ultimately being stopped.
Year after year, lawmakers spend a lot of time considering proposals that obviously would weaken Connecticut’s employers and economy and hurt, not help, employees. Ultimately, most lawmakers realized the fragile state of our economy and, for the first time in years, enacted no new harmful labor and employment legislation.
Anti-jobs proposals fail
From employers’ perspective, the list of anti-jobs (and often pro-labor union) legislation was much too long. Here is a list of measures that failed to pass:
- Mandating paid sick leave — mandating this benefit would only have forced employers to cut back on other benefits, or cut back on jobs
- Restricting employer-employee communications — so-called “captive audience” proposal would have kept important information away from employees
- Eliminating the secret ballot process for labor union elections — “card check” bill would hand unions a blatantly unfair advantage in the workplace
- Imposing costly and hard-to-manage new labor mandates even at the potential expense of job creation during a down economy
- Increasing employer notice posting requirements for matters unrelated to the workplace
- Eliminating the employment-at-will doctrine by narrowly prescribing employer obligations when terminating employment
- Increasing employers’ administrative and cost burdens for workers’ compensation and various other employee benefit programs, employment decisions regarding hiring and firing; and a host of other employer actions.
One positive measure adopted this year was SB-710 (Public Act 09-70), which updates the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act to reflect recent changes made to federal law.
Several of these changes benefit employers by making the state and federal laws more congruent and easing problems in administering sporadic or intermittent employee leave under the FMLA.
The reality is that many of the negative measures introduced this year—as well as others that habitually resurface— are very likely to be raised again despite their lack of merit and the uncertainty of our state and national economies.
For more information about labor and employment legislation, contact CBIA’s Kia Murrell at 860-244-1931.
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