Earlier this week, as I peeked up from my bed covers, I heard the lovely, comforting sound I heard when I was a kid.

“Come on Down!”

“The Price is Right” was starting.

Sure, Bob Barker is no longer the host, but I didn’t care.

At that moment, when my stomach was churning and the room was moving a bit, all I was hoping for was a round of Plinko. (I did, however, miss the ultimate Plinko win a few weeks back.)

Well that, and maybe a spin of the wheel where someone wins a $1000.  (And I missed this record-setting set of spins too.)

Netflix? My head hurts.

Bingeing on a show? Too much thinking.

But at 11 a.m. — like chicken soup — The Price is Right was there for me.

Is it the classic show for working folk to watch when they’re sick? Who knows.

With an iPhone by your side and the e-mails piling up, it’s hard to just rest and let your body recover.

In fact, I would argue that it’s harder in this 24/7 work environment to just tune out. But one of the myriad of bugs going around this winter laid me up for a few days.

Sure, I could’ve read up about paid time off, or debate whether flu shots should be required.

But where’s the fun in that?

Employment laws are great — except when you’re the person you is the subject of them. Thankfully, my firm (and our clients) are understanding. Better to stay home and not get others sick, than to come in.

We know not all employers are like that. However, this winter, it seems to have shifted a bit — at least informally.  The messages have been getting out — don’t come into work sick.

Spring is coming. And work resumes.

But The Price is Right is, at least for me, a reminder that taking care of yourself is eternal.

 

The title of the post is a bit misleading because the answer to the question is, at this point, unanswerable. 

In what ways do we measure success under Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave law? The number of employees who have used it? The people who didn’t get sick as a result? The overall flu rate?

Of course, that hasn’t stopped some from trying. Last week, a survey released from the Employment Policies Institute claimed that businesses have taken “labor-saving steps to adapt to the law’s costs — with consequences for employers and employees both.”

Specifically, the survey claimed that some employers “scaled back employee hours, cut wages and canceled plans to expand as a result of the law.”

But even that survey should be taken with a grain of salt since, by its own terms, it may not be “representative” of all employers. 

Unfortunately, it may be some time before we understand the full impact of Paid Sick Leave.  Even now, 20 years after the passage of the FMLA, its benefits are still being debated by employers and the government

What’s an employer to do? In some ways, stop worrying about whether the law works and instead consider lobbying the legislature to tweak the law to make it easier to comply and reduce the administrative burdens associated with the law.

One such change that has been proposed is to allow employers to calculate paid sick leave on something other than a calendar year, much like the FMLA. 

That’s a good start, but there are other solutions as well. Groups like the Connecticut Restaurant Association are focused on this too.

In the meantime, if you need a refresher on Paid Sick Leave, you can check out some prior posts here and here.

Continuing our weekly series of basic laws of the workplace, this week will focus on the injuries at the workplace.

In 2008, there were over 67,000 injuries reported at the workplace (with 34 fatalities).  Thus, at some point or another, odds are that one of your employees will get injured.

While there are whole books spent on handling such claims, there are two basic concepts that employers should consider when employees have work-related injuries.

First, all of these type of injuries (with some limited exceptions) are covered by the workers compensation system in Connecticut.  The WCC in Connecticut has a detailed information packet that provides all the necessary forms and information for employers to get refreshed on the topic.

Second, when these injuries occur, the employer should consider three steps: 1) Assist the employee is getting medical treatment; 2) Notify your insurer of the injury and possible claim; and 3) Fill out the "First Report of Injury" to the insurer, which serves as a more official notice of the claim.

Of course, there are always questions that pop up that don’t fit into neat categories. The classic example is an employee who suffers an injury at the company softball game. I suppose the updated example is an office invests in a Nintendo Wii to keep the company morale up and allow people to spend some time during breaks getting in shape.  (Nutmeg Lawyer Adrian Baron takes this one step further; his firm actually bought some Wii games for his staff.) 

Each of these situations will be a little different.  Companies that have risk management departments may be able to address these issues without much outside help, but small to mid-size employers should consider working closely with their insurer to determine the best practices approach to dealing with injuries at the workplace.

And consistent with yesterday’s article, making sure your company has purchased workers’ compensation insurance is critical to avoiding getting ensnared in the government’s crackdown.

Today is the final day of the General Assembly and the Paid Sick Leave proposal (S.B. 217) is expected to come before the House before the close of business.  But, perhaps in a sign that it is doomed to die a procedural death, it has drawn nearly 25 proposed amendments.  

One of the listed amendments is just a head scratcher.  Specifically, House Amendment 6092 (proposed by House Republican Leader Lawrence Cafero and Rep. Aman) would, in essence, allow employees to use paid sick leave for the first day of summer, the first day of fishing or hunting season, or, and I kid you not, the opening day of baseball season. 

Don’t believe me? Here’s the actual language:  

(e) No employer shall require documentation of an illness, injury or health condition, as described in subsection (b) of this section, if the employee uses a paid sick day on the twenty-first day of the month of June, the first day of a sport-fishing or hunting season authorized pursuant to chapter 26 of the general statutes, or the opening day of the official Major League Baseball season. " 

Thus, under this amendment, an employee could take the day off to attend the Opening Day of baseball season, and the employer would just have to "take the employee’s word" that the day was a paid sick leave day.  The Office of Fiscal Analysis even issued a one sentence report indicating that it would have no "fiscal impact" in the state.

Because the proposal comes from two Republican lawmakers (who, as a group, have expressed skepticism about the bill), I think it’s fair to say that this proposal will go nowhere. Maybe it is just being used to make a point that the paid sick leave bill will be difficult to enforce. But, given the ramifications of the Paid Sick Leave act bill, as I’ve covered before, one has to wonder what they were thinking in taking the time to draft an actual amendment on this topic.

The General Assembly starts again this morning. Grab your popcorn. Should be a fun last day.

Late Thursday night, the State Senate passed the Paid Sick Leave bill (S.B. 217) with various amendments including an exemption for some existing collective bargaining agreements.  The vote was a close one — 20-16 — and you can find the roll call here.

The bill would make Connecticut the first state to require employers of 50 or more, to allow workers to courtesy morgue file public domain "medical"take 6½ paid sick days per year. It would also apply to municipalities.  One additional amendment that passed would limt the times when employee could use sick time for an illness of an employee or employee’s child.

The bill now moves on to the House for further consideration, where nearly 40 legislators have publicly co-sponsored the bill already.  Some of the sponsors of the bill have predicted passage there, but its real future is unknown at this point, with the session winding down.  Debate in the Senate took two days and it is unclear if there is enough time left for the bill to pass. 

The Hartford Courant has a late report and reaction here:

[State Senator Edith] Prague called the bill a major boon to average working people, "especially single parents, like women, who have to go to work. They can’t afford the luxury of staying home if they’re sick. They need that day’s pay to feed the kids … and heat the house." …

But opponents said the increasing business competition in a difficult economy is the reason that lawmakers should not approve the bill: It would put Connecticut at a disadvantage and cost the jobs of some of the very workers it is intended to help, they said.

The state’s leading business lobbying group, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, has said the bill "would cost employers in dollars and productivity — a tough one-two punch in this weakening economy."

Various political blogs have started to chime in, including My Left Nutmeg here.  My prior coverage of the bill can be found here.

UPDATE: You can also find the CT News Junkie coverage of the bill here.