The Connecticut General Assembly is already busy with a full compliment of employment law bills under consideration.  At this point, it seems likely that several will pass in one form or another and thus employers should be playing close attention to the developments.

Here are a few of the Senate ones that I’m watching (I’ll tackle the House bills in tomorrow’s post – now available here):

  • Senate Bill 1 – This is the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill that has been kicking around for a few years.  Late last week, the Labor & Public Employees Committee issued a new draft.  There are a LOT of details to this but in essence, the bill would have two major changes. First, it would create a new paid family leave insurance program that would take contributions from employees and distribute those contributions to employees who need to take paid leave — similar to a workers’ compensation program.  Second, the bill would make significant changes to the existing Connecticut Family Leave law, to broaden the law’s application to all types of employers and broaden when an employee may take the leave as well.  More to come as this bill progresses.  A hearing on the bill is scheduled for February 14, 2019.
  • Proposed Senate Bill 64 – This is a rehash of a bill that would limit so-called “captive audience” meetings.  The details are still in flux but the Labor & Public Employee committee voted to draft the bill on February 7, 2019.  I’ve discussed prior versions of the bill here, including the Attorney General’s concern that such a bill may not be legal.
  • Proposed Senate Bill 358 – This proposed bill would provide employees with time off to vote in elections.  The committee voted to draft the bill late last month but there’s no indication yet whether this would apply to all local elections (such as a town budget referendum) or just broad state elections.
  • Proposed Senate Bill 697 – This proposed bill, which is scheduled for a hearing on February 14, 2019 and is lacking details as of yet, would “place restrictions on workplace nondisclosure agreements to prohibit the silencing of victims in the workplace and to prevent sexual harassment by repeat offenders.”  This would seem to go further than the recent federal law which limited tax deductions for confidential sexual harassment settlements.
  • Proposed Senate Bill 700 – This bill would allow for electronic signatures by employees in the restaurant industry when distinguishing between service and non-service duties. This bill is also scheduled for a hearing on February 14th.  It would be a small but significant help to small employers who have trouble keeping up with the record-keeping requirements in this area.
  • Proposed Senate Bill 764 – This bill would prohibit on-call shift scheduling — something that has been under attack in prior sessions as well.  Specifically, the bill would “prohibit the employment practice of requiring an employee to call an employer prior to a scheduled shift to confirm that the employee is needed for the shift, and to require employers to give an employee at least twenty-four hours prior notice if the employee is not needed to work a scheduled shift.” The Labor & Public Employee committee voted to draft this proposal so watch for a full-fledged bill soon.
  • Proposed Senate Bill 765 – And then there’s this proposed bill scheduled for a hearing on February 14, 2019.  Right now, it states that the law would ensure all employees “receive fair and equal pay for equal work”.  What that means for employers is anyone’s guess right now.

This is about a busy a listing as you can reasonably expect to see from our part-time legislature.  It’s still early but that’s just the half of it.  I’ll tackle the House bills in my next post.

calendar1Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard lots of grumbling about the employment law proposals being floated at the Connecticut General Assembly.  But it wasn’t until recently, that I understood how serious one proposal is.

Last week, proponents of House Bill 6933 held a press conference to have the legislature pass a measure requiring employers to post employee schedules 21 days in advance —or pay a “predictability tax” if that schedule is changed in any way. CBIA has more details here and describes it as a “Catch-22” for employers.

From an employment law perspective, the proposed bill would add yet another serious of layers for employers to have to address. The bill would require employers to provide employees with a minimum of 21 days notice of their schedules. Any changes to those schedules would result in the employer having to pay a “predictability” tax/penalty of anywhere of 1 hour of pay to 4 hours of pay or perhaps more.

Employees who are unhappy with the results could then file a claim with the Connecticut Department of Labor.

But that’s not all. Employees who believe that they should be compensated for the “predictability” pay could then file a claim in Superior Court for treble (read: triple!) damages and attorneys’ fees.

And under the bill, the employer could not defend itself by saying that the employee and employer have agreed to waive the predictability pay; in other words, the employee cannot say “I don’t need the three weeks’ notice”.  It would be mandatory.

Obviously, this is a class-action lawsuit bonanza waiting to happen.  All employers in the state — no matter how large or small — would be subject to this new law, if passed.

Putting aside the politics of such a proposal, I have little doubt that this proposal would be very onerous for employers to follow.  At the public hearing on this measure, there were many examples provided by non-profit employers and others that describe the difficulties that such a proposal would have.  Even the state’s judicial branch expressed serious reservations.

If this is an issue of concern to your workplace, you may want to contact your local legislature to share your opinion before the measure comes up for a possible vote something this year.