As I outlined previously, the state continues to add new laws for employers to consider.
But lost in the new items is the fact that there are several laws on the books that seem outdated or unused. Yet, once a law is on the books, it’s incredibly hard to get rid of it. As a result, the web for employers to navigate becomes much more complex.
Cases in point?
- Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-16 prohibits, among other things, telegraph companies (in cities over 20,000 people) from using minors from delivering messages between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. (Raise your hand if you used a telegraph in the last 10 years….)
- Several statutes, including Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-18 prohibit restaurants and mercantile establishments from having people work between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. Who is excluded? Those who are 66 years old (unless they “consent”) and “handicapped persons, so designated by medical or governmental authority, except with their consent and after certification by a physician that the extended hours of work will not be injurious to their health”. (These statutes seem inconsistent with the idea that employers are not supposed to discriminate against older workers and disabled workers and also have a parental aspect to them.)
- Or how about Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-25, which restricts minors from operating elevators or being employed as elevator operators. (When was the last elevator operator you saw in Connecticut?)
- Then there is Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-36 which mandates toilet rooms for foundries. The requirement for manufacturers and restaurant bathrooms has long since been repealed. (Why stop at foundries? Or, better yet, why include foundries?)
- And Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-40u which mandates certain guidelines be established for the use of “video display terminals” by state employees. (Do we need regulations covering an iPad?)
- Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51l provides elected politicians with protected leaves of absences from their existing jobs in the public or private workforce. (Is it really a good idea to protect the jobs of people who voluntarily seek public office, even years after they have left?)
There are countless others laws spread out in different sections like Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51f — which authorizes the Department of Labor to participate in the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962, a program which expired 3 years later.
So, consider this a modest request: It’s time to clean up the labor & employment laws once and for all. Have a task force this fall review the labor laws and come up with a omnibus bill to remove or revise outdated laws.
In the process, this task force could put all the laws concerning the employment of minors in one location and write them in plain English. The task force could also recommend rescinding the laws that have outlived their usefulness like rules regarding video display terminals.
That’s no help to employers now who will have to keep track of still more laws. Hopefully, with a bit of time, the General Assembly could clarify the laws to make sure that if we are still using 20th century laws, they have some applicability to the 21st century workplace.