2021 was a pretty busy year when it came to new labor & employment laws for employers in Connecticut.
Even though the legislative session is a “short” session, that doesn’t mean 2022 will be quiet. Indeed, several notable bills are already under consideration by the General Assembly with a hearing scheduled on several bills for Tuesday.
Here are a few to keep an eye on:
- Ten years ago, I highlighted a proposed “captive audience” bill that was being floated; that bill would have prohibited employers from requiring employees to listen to what their employers have to say, particularly when it comes to unionization. Ultimately, the bill died, as it did back in 2011, when a similar bill was roundly criticized by the then-Attorney General. A new version of the bill is now being considered seriously by the general assembly, in Senate Bill 163.
The bill would amend Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-51q by prohibiting an employer from disciplining or discharging an employee for “refusing to (A) attend an employer-sponsored meeting with the employer or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate the employer’s opinion concerning religious or political matters, or (B) listen to speech or view communications, the primary purpose of which is to communicate the employer’s opinion concerning religious or political matters.”
Beyond the business issues with such a bill, which have been articulated by the CBIA, the structure of the bill itself poses significant constitutional challenges since employers will argue that their OWN First Amendment rights are being infringed upon. With labor successes over the last few years in minimum wage and paid leave, this bill is definitely one to watch. A hearing on this bill is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
- Currently, we have two separate benefit systems for employees who want to take sick leave. For nearly all workers in Connecticut, employees can seek income replacement from the state’s Paid Leave Authority. For certain “service workers”, they may also be entitled to paid sick leave from their employers. Senate Bill 312 would dramatically expand the second of these — Paid Sick Leave provided by employers directly –– to nearly all employees in Connecticut. A hearing on this bill is also scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
- Senate Bill 314 is new type of legislation that would greatly regulate how warehouse employers manage their employees. In doing so, warehouse employers would be required to “provide to each employee a written description of each quota the employee is subject to within a defined time period and any potential adverse employment action that may result from a failure to meet such quota.” And yes, there’s a hearing on this bill also on Tuesday.
- On the House side, a bill restricting the use of non-compete agreement is again on the table. I’ve talked about this before and this year’s bill (House Bill 5249) is similar in its scope.
- House Bill 5353 would regulate how employers schedule employees for work, particularly in retail establishments. Again, this bill has been raised in prior sessions. This bill will also be discussed at Tuesday’s hearing.