Minimum Wage, Paid FMLA Proposals Die as Legislative Session Ends
Bills creating a paid family and medical leave program and increasing the minimum wage lost momentum in the waning days of the 2017 legislative session.
Additional costly mandates like paid family medical leave and the wage hike are the last things businesses need as Connecticut’s economy and job growth continue to struggle.
Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders acknowledged the votes weren’t there for the House version of the bill, HB 6212, which also died when the House did not act by the deadline.
The paid FMLA proposals applied to all Connecticut businesses, with taxpayers on the hook for hiring at least 120 new state workers needed to run the program.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis reported the paid FMLA proposals would cost taxpayers about $13.6 million the first year, and another $18 million each subsequent year.
Democratic legislative leaders also acknowledged there were not enough votes to pass HB 6208, which proposed a new $15 hourly minimum wage by 2022.
While observers expected to see HB 6208 amended to propose a smaller increase to $11 or $12 per hour, no action was taken by the deadline.
At $10.10 an hour, Connecticut’s minimum wage is one of the highest in the country and much higher than the federal mandate of $7.25 an hour.
Other Mandate Proposals
Paid FMLA and the minimum wage hike were among a number of potentially costly workplace mandates considered by the General Assembly this legislative session.
HB 6668, which requires employers with three or more employees to provide reasonable workplace accommodations for pregnant employees—unless it imposes an undue hardship on the employer—passed both the House and Senate
It is expected to be signed into law by the Governor.
While HB 6668 is not perfect, it is better than originally drafted thanks to bipartisan cooperation, with lawmakers considering its impact on the business community.
Earlier drafts created a rebuttable presumption that any accommodation an employer had ever made for a pregnant employee would not be deemed an undue hardship.
The bill, in most respects, mirrors existing federal law. However, it is nonetheless a new mandate on small businesses.
The House also did not act on HB 6519, prohibiting businesses outside the financial industry from running credit checks on prospective employees.
This session saw growing recognition from state lawmakers about the impact workplace mandates have on business costs in Connecticut.
The bill was introduced this year despite reforms the legislature enacted in 2012.
The Senate did not take up SB 747, a mandate requiring employers, except for healthcare providers, to give not less than 24 hours notice to employees about their work shifts.
The measure earlier passed the Labor and Public Employees Committee on an 8-5 vote.
It would have prevented businesses in many industries from quickly responding to changing customer demands or supply interruptions.
HB 6914, which requires a minimum 30-hour work week for individuals performing janitorial services, died in the Appropriations Committee after its earlier narrow passage in the Labor Committee on a 7-6 vote.
The bill mandated minimum weekly hours regardless of whether a worker wanted those hours, creating issues for employers, including educational institutions with work-study programs.
This legislative session saw growing recognition from state lawmakers about the impact workplace mandates have on business costs in Connecticut—among the highest in the country.
Lawmakers who heeded that recognition and stood up to these mandates during the session deserve credit for their actions and their commitment to improving Connecticut's business climate.
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