This morning, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of some pretty smart people in the hospitality industry about Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2012.  After all, with the movie Contagion as the nation’s number one movie, sickness is something on people’s minds.

(I’ve previously covered this new law in a good bit of detail here, which I suggest reading before continuing).

Nurses. Courtesy of Library of Congress

What everyone came away with from the meeting is that the new law raises more questions than answers and that it’s going to be real challenge to implement this.

Here are three things that you may not have thought about when you’re figuring out how it will impact your workplace.

  1. 680 is the new magic number. Why? Because until and unless an employee has worked for your company for 680 hours, the employee cannot take any of the paid sick leave that he or she has accrued.But suppose an employee works for 280 hours, leaves, and then returns, what happens then? It appears that the employee’s first 280 hours counts towards the 680 requirement (Connecticut law views this as a “break in service”) BUT any sick leave time that the employee had before leaving disappears upon termination.  In that instance, the employee would only have to work 400 more hours to be eligible for leave and would have accrued 10 hours of paid sick leave when reaching that milestone.
  2. Beware the 9 hour a week worker. But where things really get interesting is with some seasonal workers whose hours increase for a few months, and then just go to 5-10 hours a week.  Buried deep in the sick leave law is this provision: A service worker shall not be entitled to the use of accrued paid sick leave “if such service worker did not work an average of ten or more hours a week for the employer in the most recent complete calendar quarter.”  So, an employee who works an average of 8 hours per week from January-March is not entitled to USE that leave during April to June.  But if that employee then averages 20 hours a week from April to June, the employee IS entitled to use the accrued leave from July to September.Yeah, that’s not confusing at all.
  3. A “service worker” isn’t intuitive. Only “service workers” as defined in the statute are eligible for this state mandated leave.  Who is a service worker is not intuitive. For private clubs, for example, the grounds crew isn’t considered a service worker, while many of the club house staff may be.  Lifeguards are not on the list, but the food servers around the pool likely are.  For employers, understanding who is and isn’t covered is going to be one of the biggest challenges of the new law.

Less than four months remain before the new paid sick leave law takes effect. If you haven’t thought about the implications for your workplace, now’s the time.