On July 1, 2011, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law a bill—the first of its kind in the U.S.—that requires employers of 50 or more employees to provide annual paid sick leave to each of the employer’s service workers in Connecticut. Governor Malloy also signed a bill that would amend a number of state discrimination laws, including Connecticut’s statute barring discriminatory employment practices , by adding a prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.
Connecticut Mandatory Paid Sick Leave
Under the new paid sick leave law, sick leave begins to accrue for service workers on January 1, 2012, at the rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, in 1-hour increments up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. Workers will be entitled to carry over up to 40 unused accrued hours from the current calendar year to the next calendar year.
A “service worker” is defined in the new law as an employee who is:
- Paid on an hourly basis;
- Not exempt from the minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act; and
- Primarily engaged in one of the occupations listed in Section 1(7) of the statute and identified by occupation code numbers and titles used by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification System .
The new law does not apply to charitable organizations exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that provide recreation, child care and education.
Use of Paid Sick Leave by Service Workers
An eligible service worker will be able to use accrued paid sick leave for:
- The service worker’s (or child’s or spouse’s) illness, injury or health condition;
- The medical diagnosis, care or treatment of the service worker’s (or child’s or spouse’s) mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
- Preventative medical care for the service worker (or child or spouse); and
- Medical care or counseling for a service worker who is a victim of family violence or sexual assault; obtaining services from a victim services organization; relocating; or participating in civil or criminal proceedings related to the family violence or sexual assault.
Responsibilities of Employers Under the Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law
Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide notice to each service worker at the time of hiring:
- Of the entitlement to sick leave;
- Of the amount and terms of the sick leave;
- That retaliation by an employer against an employee who requests or uses sick leave is prohibited; and
- That the employee has the right to file a complaint with the CT Department of Labor for violations of this law.
Employers may satisfy this notice requirement by displaying a poster in both English and Spanish at the employer’s place of business.
An employer may take disciplinary action against a service worker who uses the paid sick leave for other purposes, but may not retaliate against a worker who requests or uses paid sick leave in accordance with the new law or who files a complaint with the Commissioner of the CT Department of Labor alleging violations of the new law.
The new law is effective January 1, 2012. To read the law in its entirety, please click here.
Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression Prohibited in Connecticut
Under the new law adding gender identity or expression as a category of discrimination prohibited under Connecticut law, employers with 3 or more employees may not engage in discriminatory employment practices on the basis of an individual’s gender identity or expression, including:
- Refusal to hire;
- Discrimination with respect to compensation; and
- Sexual harassment.
Definition of Gender Identity or Expression
The new law defines “gender identity or expression” as a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, regardless of whether that identity, appearance or behavior is different from the person’s physiology or birth sex. A person can demonstrate his or her gender-related identity by providing evidence such as medical history, care or treatment; consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity; or any other evidence that such identity is sincerely held.
The new discrimination law is effective October 1, 2011.
For more information on state laws specific to Connecticut, visit the HR360 State Laws section, click on Connecticut, and choose your topic of interest from the left-hand navigation menu.