Last week, I touched on a few aspects of the new Paid Sick Leave Guidance that was released by the Connecticut Department of Labor. (For prior posts, see here, here and here.) Today, I continue to discuss the guidance with a look at when service workers can start using accumulated paid sick leave.

One of the more notable aspects of the Paid Sick Leave law (which, as a reminder, goes into effect on January 1, 2012) is that service workers cannot start to use any accumulated paid sick leave until they have worked 680 hours for the employer. But the new law left a few issues open; the CTDOL guidance has attempted to settle some of these issues.

Counting 680 Hours

Firs, the guidance confirms that the 680 hour requirement is a actual time worked rule. That is, “Service workers cannot use accrued paid sick leave until they have worked 680 hours of employment. The 680 hours must be hours actually worked and does not include any time off (e.g. vacation, paid time off…) taken by the service worker.”

Employers should start counting the 680 hours starts either on January 1, 2012 or whenever the employee is hired, whichever is later.

Second, the guidance confirms that the 680 hour requirement is a “one-time requirement.”  As the guidance states, “Once service workers meet the 680 hours, they never have to meet it again for the same employer.”

What does this mean in practical terms? It means that if a service worker works 300 hours for the employer, then resigns, then starts working for the same employer 5 years later, the 300 hours that the worker worked must be counted towards the 680 hour threshold.  For employers, that means that an employee’s hours need to be retained forever — or at least until that worker hits 680 hours.

Third, the guidance sheds some light on a little-discussed provision. “After the service worker meets the 680 hours requirement and seeks to use accrued paid seek leave, [he or she] can use accrued time only if the service worker [has] worked an AVERAGE of 10 hours per week in the most recent completed calendar quarter.”    This will have a big impact for employers who use seasonal workers or lots of part-time workers.   Note that it does not require employees to work 10 hours each week — rather merely an average of 10 hours a week.

As I’ve stated before, the paid sick leave law promises to be among the more challenging endeavors for employers to track. Be sure to work closely with any payroll service you have to make sure that you are tracking the time properly.

(We’ll address this law and other new developments at our upcoming free seminar on Thursday. There are just a few seats available.)