The Connecticut General Assembly is back in session and with significant budget deficits looming, it’s not going to be an easy year for legislators.
From a labor and employment law session, once again it will be interesting to see what will be seriously considered.
A Bloomberg Law article late last week suggested that Democrats in several states, including Connecticut, are planning bills to try to replicate the federal overtime-pay overhaul that has been held up in federal court. Without citing names, the article states:
Democrats in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Wisconsin and Michigan said they plan to introduce bills modeled on Obama’s reform, which would have made millions more white-collar workers eligible for overtime.
A cursory look at the Bill Record book for the Labor & Public Employees committee fails to show such a bill yet, but it’s still early. At this point in the legislative cycle, only early “proposed” bills are officially on record. That, of course, doesn’t mean that other draft bills aren’t being floated out there.
So among the proposed bills, what else is out there being considered for 2017?
- As expected, a paid family & medical leave bill is definitely on the table now, after being looked at for the last 18 months or so. Indeed, it is titled “Proposed Senate Bill No. 1″ and is co-sponsored by several senators. Having a bill marked as “One” indicates that this will be a priority in the current session. The details, however, are still being worked on.
- Another bill that already has garnered widespread support including from the House leadership is Proposed House Bill 5591. While again, the details are still forthcoming, the bill would “require employers, including the state and political subdivisions, to provide equal pay to employees in the same workplace who perform comparable duties.” What’s still unknown is why this is being sought, just 2 years after another pay equity bill titled “An Act on Pay Equity and Fairness” was passed. Time will tell, but expect to see more on this bill soon.
- Another bill concerning “Various Pay Equity and Fairness Matters” (not to be confused with prior bills) has also been proposed by new Representative Derek Slap from West Hartford. That bill would mirror some other states that have recently passed bills further limiting what prospective employers can ask applicants. Specifically, this Proposed House Bill 5210 would:
(1) Prohibit employers from asking a prospective employee’s wage and salary history before an employment offer with compensation has been negotiated, provided prospective employees may volunteer information on their wage and salary history,
(2) Prohibit employers from using an employee’s previous wage or salary history as a defense in an equal pay lawsuit,
(3) Permit an employer to have an affirmative defense in an equal pay lawsuit if it can demonstrate that, within three years prior to commencement of the lawsuit, the employer completed a good faith self-evaluation of its pay practices and can demonstrate that reasonable progress has been made towards eliminating gender-based wage differentials, and
(4) Protect seniority pay differentials from adverse adjustments for time spent on leave due to pregnancy-related conditions or protected parental, family and medical leave.
Other proposed bills can be found here including an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
One important note: The state Senate has now split 18-18 among Democrats and Republicans. Thus, I think it’s fair to expect that there will be less laws that impact employers than in year’s past. The CBIA has an update from a business perspective here.