Minimum Wage, FMLA, Overtime Bills Filed in Labor Committee

01.20.2017
Issues & Policies

Final bills filed by legislators are making their way to the Labor and Public Employees Committee for consideration now that the submission deadline has passed.
While we fully expected legislation calling for a higher minimum wage and a proposal for an expensive paid family and medical leave mandate, there are other measures that Connecticut businesses should also be aware of this year.
Connecticut Business CostsThis list will grow in coming weeks as the committee begins crafting its own proposals.

Overtime Exclusions

Proposed HB 5286, introduced by first-year state Rep. Stephanie Cummings (R-Waterbury), would exclude certain highly compensated employees from receiving overtime. 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.
Connecticut’s Department of Labor made the policy choice in the past requiring employers to pay overtime for a variety of classifications of employee 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 Labor Committee broadens Cummings’ bill to include “computer employees” and “learned professionals.”
Further, in another effort to have state law mirror federal law, CBIA hopes the bill will also 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.

Equal Pay

Proposed HB 5590, introduced by the House Democratic leadership team, calls for a task force to study the effectiveness of the workforce development programs in the state.
The business community applauds this effort, particularly at a time when the state needs to be as efficient as possible with its financial resources.
However, it is critical that this bill, does not slow down or interfere with programs that are working well.
As part of their economic development plan, House Democratic leaders also introduced Proposed HB 5591, which will “require employers…to provide equal pay to employees in the same workplace who perform comparable duties.”

It's difficult to understand how a new mandate on businesses could be included in any economic development plan.

Because the bill is only one sentence long at this point, it bears close watching.
Based on the bill's wording, it is difficult to understand how a new mandate on businesses, largely duplicative of existing mandates and protections but creating another avenue for potential litigation, could be included in any economic development plan.
There are many state and federal laws that already prohibit disparate treatment in the workplace based on gender, race, and other factors.
It's important to note that there are valid reasons to pay employees different wages, particularly if there are differences in their education, skills, productivity, and years on the job.
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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