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Connecticut Makes Employer-Friendly Changes to Paid Sick Leave Statute

Published:  June 25, 2014

In 2012, Connecticut became the first state to mandate employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Under the current legislation, any employer with 50 or more employees in Connecticut are required to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year to non-exempt “service workers.” “Service workers” are specifically identified in the statute as employees engaged primarily in an occupation within one of the occupation code numbers and titles, as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system, and who are paid on an hourly basis or are otherwise not exempt from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime requirements. Each service worker accrues one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked and employees may accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours of such leave per calendar year, which may be carried over from one year to the next if unused.

Employers should be aware of a few important changes to Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave Act, which will go into effect on January 1, 2015. Under the current law, an employer must pay sick leave to employees if it employs 50 or more employees during any quarter during the previous calendar year. The new act will streamline this eligibility requirement by requiring employers to determine if they meet the 50-employee threshold based on the number of employees on payroll during the week of October 1 the previous year. This amendment will have a positive impact on employers that experience seasonal fluctuations in their workforce, but otherwise would not meet the 50-employee threshold during the majority of the calendar year.

It is worth noting that the amendments also include a penalty provision for any employer who attempts to avoid meeting the 50-employee threshold by temporarily transferring employees from one location to another outside of Connecticut or dismissing employees before October 1. However, neither the current law nor the new amendment provide workers with a private right of action to sue for violations of this law, and instead only allow for workers to file a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Labor. In order to avoid a perception of impropriety, employers should carefully document explanations for any personnel changes that might result in a fall in payroll to below 50 employees.

Additionally, the amendments will allow for some flexibility for employers in determining the timeframe for accruing paid sick leave. Under the current law, employers must pay qualifying employees 1 hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked during the calendar year, beginning January 1. However, the new legislation allows employers to start the benefit year on any date the employer uses to calculate employee benefits, rather than limiting employers to a January 1 start date. This will allow employers to streamline their benefit packages, with all benefits beginning on the same start date.

Finally, employers should be aware that the amendment will expand sick leave pay to cover radiologic technologists, who were not previously included on the list of service workers who qualify for paid sick leave.

If you have any questions regarding paid sick leave, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal LLP at (413) 586-2288.

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