Pro-Business Sick Leave Reforms Get Hearing

03.08.2013
Issues & Policies

Changes to the state’s paid sick leave law that would clear away confusion about the mandate and make it easier and less costly for employers to administer were the subject of a public hearing this week in the Commerce Committee.

SB 1007, raised at the request of the business community, fixes the law without denying the benefit to anyone entitled to paid sick leave.       

Many employers have voiced concerns about some inconsistencies and inflexibility in the law that have made compliance difficult. To address those concerns, SB 1007 includes changes that will: 

  • Allow employers the flexibility to administer paid sick leave using the same calendar—fiscal or other 365-day period (such as from the employee’s date of hire)—that they use to administer other employee benefits
  • Close a technical loophole to make all manufacturers exempt from the law as was originally intended  
  • Provide a way to account for seasonal employment fluctuations that temporarily push employers over the 50-employee threshold 
  • Make the law consistent with a provision in the state’s Family and Medical Leave Act to help deal with employees who repeatedly use leave time for purposes other than those intended by the law (this change would not require employees to provide a doctor’s note each time they wanted to use paid sick leave)    

Connecticut is the first and only state to require employers of 50 more employees to provide paid sick leave to each of their full- and part-time service workers.

Service workers include people in one of over 60 job titles and functions such as data processors, restaurant and food service workers, security guards, and front desk personnel. Under the law, a service worker accrues one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.  

Supporters had said the paid sick leave law would be inexpensive and easy for employers to administer. Instead, employers have found just the opposite—it’s both problematic and costly. 

A recent survey of Connecticut businesses by the Employment Policies Institute found that at least 47% of employers required to provide paid sick leave have had to raise prices, scale back on other benefits, reduce employee hours, or hire more temporary employees in order to adjust for the cost of the mandate.   

Last year, the state Department of Labor (DOL) went on the road across the state, holding seminars for businesses on how to untangle the act’s ambiguities and help employers comply with it. Even so, the DOL had to admit the law is rife with legal uncertainties that could lead to future litigation.  

And while the DOL has provided some informal opinions on how various parts of the law should be interpreted, those opinions don’t have the legal weight to protect business against the potential of costly litigation.

CBIA encourages the committee to adopt these changes to make sure the law works properly and Connecticut businesses are not unduly burdened by it.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1921 or eric.gjede@cbia.com.

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