UPDATED: June 9, 2011
Paid Sick Leave has officially passed the Connecticut General Assembly and awaits a formal signature by Governor Malloy (who has indicated he will sign the measure). There’s a lot of little things in the bill.
Here are the basics of what you need to know as an employer (assuming it is signed as is). I’ll have more information in upcoming posts from time to time. Note that this is only a summary of some of the key provisions. Employers will want to consult with appropriate legal counsel to determine the bill’s specific application to your specific company.
When Will It Be Effective?
The bill is effective January 1, 2012.
What “Employers” Are Covered?
The definition of an employer is a company that employers 50 or more people in Connecticut in any one quarter of the prior year.
Notably, the definition of “employer” does not include “any business establishment classified in sector 31, 32 or 33 in the North American Industrial Classification System” which is believed to be many manufacturers. It also does not include “any nationally chartered organization exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986…that provides all of the following services: Recreation, child care and education.” That exception is understood to include only the YMCA (though there may be a few out there that might fall within that limited exception.
In other words, many manufacturers and the YMCA are probably not covered at all under the act, even if they have workers who would otherwise qualify.
What Employees Will Be Covered?
Only “service workers” will be covered. Moreover, those service workers must be paid on an hourly basis and be viewed as “non-exempt” from overtime rules. “Day and temporary workers” are also specifically excluded from coverage.
Who Is a “Service Worker”?
As defined by the bill, a service worker means someone means “an employee primarily engaged in an occupation with one of the following broad or detailed occupation code numbers and titles, as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system or any successor system”, For a full list of codes, see this post.
How Does Paid Sick Leave Accrue?
Service workers get 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours (5 business days). It appears that overtime hours worked also must be included in the “time worked” calculation. Employees can carry over up to 5 days paid sick leave each year.
When Can Service Workers Begin to Take Paid Sick Leave?
After the service worker has worked 680 hours (about 4 months, absent any overtime), though the employer can agree to move up that date.
What Can the Service Worker Take Paid Time Off For?
The service worker can take paid time off for the following:
- For the worker’s own: 1) illness, injury or health condition, 2) medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a service worker’s mental illness or physical illness, injury or health condition, or 3) preventative medical care for a service worker;
- For all of the above for the worker’s own child or spouse.
The service worker can also take paid time off if that worker is a a victim of family violence or sexual assault. In such cases, the worker can seek time off 1) for medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability, 2) to obtain services from a victim services organization, 3) to relocate due to such family violence or sexual assault, or 4) to participate in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from such family violence or sexual assault.
How is an Employer “Deemed” to be in Compliance Without Formally Implementing This New Law?
An employer is deemed in compliance if it offers “any other paid leave” (i.e. paid time off (PTO), vacation time, etc.) that is at least equal to the benefit offered by the statute (in other words, five days off at full pay.). The PTO that the employer has must be able to be used by the service worker for the one of the reasons outlined above (i.e. for their own illness or that of their spouse etc.)
Can the Employer Require Notice?
Yes, the employer can require advance notice of up to seven days, if the leave is forseeable. If it is not forseeable, the employer can require the service worker to give notice as soon as practicable.
If paid sick leave is for 3 or more consecutive days, the employer can require “reasonable documentation” that such leave is being taken for a permitted purpose. Documentation signed by a health care provider who is treating the service worker or the service worker’s child or spouse indicating the need for the number of days of such leave shall be considered “reasonable documentation”.
Can an Employee Discipline an Service Worker Who Takes Sick Leave For a Non-Permitted Purpose?
Yes. The bill specifically provides that employers can discipline service workers who take leave for a purpose other than those specified under the bill.
Can Employees Sue if They Are Not Permitted to Take Sick Leave?
No, at least not yet. Service workers who believe their rights have been violated may raise a complaint to the Department of Labor. Ultimately, the employee may appeal the decision to Connecticut State Court, but cannot bring a claim directly there.
Do Employers Have to Provide Any Notices to Service Workers?
At the time of hire, the employer must notify each service worker that they have a right to sick leave. Employers must also specify the amount of sick leave provided and the terms under which sick leave may be used. The employer must also inform that worker that retaliation by the employer for using sick leave is prohibited by law and the service worker may file a complaint with the Department of Labor for any violation.
In order to meet this requirement, employers may simply display a post in a conspicuous place that has all the information specified above in both English and Spanish.
What About the Anti-Retaliation Provisions?
Importantly, they apply to all employees who take leave pursuant to an employer’s “Paid Sick Leave policy” or to employees who take leave pursuant to the bill (presumably, service workers.) For more information, see this post.
What Should Employers Do Now?
- Understand the provisions and whether you are covered.
- Assess your job descriptions and determine what jobs are covered.
- Review any existing policies that you have and modify them so service workers who want leave for the permitted purposes will be allowed to do so.
- Revise any offer letters or, in the alternative, create a poster that meets the requirements and have that poster up by January 1, 2012.
Not to be too repetitive, but this law promises to be quite a headache in terms of implementation. Take the time now to understand its application so when January 1st hits, you can be prepared.