Labor Committee Sets Hearing on Hiring Bill

Issues & Policies

The legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee has set a hearing for a bill that impacts the type of information employers can request from prospective employees and how they use it.
The hearing on HB 5210 is set for Jan. 31 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. It proposes several changes to labor law, including:

New England Post-Recession Jobs Recovery

Costly mandates on businesses are among the factors contributing to Connecticut’s sluggish post-recession recovery.

  • Prohibiting employers from using an employee’s previous wage or salary history as a defense in an equal pay lawsuit.
  • Permitting an employer to have an affirmative defense in an equal pay lawsuit if it can demonstrate that, within three years prior to commencement of the lawsuit, the employer completed a good faith self-evaluation of its pay practices and can demonstrate that reasonable progress has been made towards eliminating gender-based wage differentials.
  • Protecting seniority pay differentials from adverse adjustments for time spent on leave due to pregnancy-related conditions or protected parental, family and medical leave.

State and federal laws make wage disparities based on gender illegal, and, many feel that more information is typically better when matching employees with new jobs.
Hiring new employees is one of the most costly duties of any company’s human resources department. It appears the proposals outlined in HB 5210 could make the hiring process more complicated.

Pay History Matters

When a business wants to fill a job, it usually has a salary range in mind that is later narrowed in the hiring process.
Many prospective employees don’t answer application questions on salary requirements.
However, this information matters to employers because it gives them an idea of the perceived value of work the candidate did for other employers.
Without being able to ask an applicant a follow-up question about salary history, an employer won’t be able to determine whether the candidate is compatible for the job.

The proposals outlined in HB 5210 could make the hiring process more complicated.

Businesses may also end up offering salaries at the low end of the pay scale because they were not allowed to ask about a candidate’s salary history. That could end up hurting skilled applicants who would otherwise have the opportunity to argue for a higher salary.
At its best, the legislative process is an evolution, and public hearings are an important opportunity to help shape our laws.
Last year, the Massachusetts legislature passed a first-in-the-nation law on this topic, on which this proposal is fashioned. The Bay State law takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Based on discussions with our members to date, CBIA feels it would be prudent for lawmakers to gauge the impact this legislation has in Massachusetts before enacting it here.

Overtime Exclusions

Another bill is also set for a public hearing on Jan. 31.
HB 5286 excludes certain "highly compensated" employees from receiving overtime under state law. Currently, those employees are excluded only under federal law.
One of the biggest complaints from employers is the lack of consistency between state and federal wage and hour laws. This bill attempts to address one area of that concern, and CBIA supports it.
Connecticut's Department of Labor made the policy choice in the past to require employers to pay overtime for a variety of classifications of employees that are not eligible for overtime under federal law.
This is not always in the employee's interest, particularly if that employee is highly compensated or skilled. Salaried exempt workers typically enjoy more training opportunities, scheduling flexibility, and non-wage benefits than hourly employees.
The business community hopes the bill is expanded to include "computer employees" and "learned professionals."
It should also mirror federal law and allow employers to suspend without pay salaried exempt employees who violate the employer's workplace harassment or violence policy—just as they already can with hourly employees.
CBIA will monitor these proposals and update you as they move through the legislative process.

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


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