The Connecticut Senate is currently considering a bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave to their Connecticut employees. The Connecticut House of Representatives approved the bill on May 28 by a vote of 88-58.
Should the bill pass, beginning January 1, 2010 employers with at least 50 Connecticut workers would be required to offer their hourly employees at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 52 hours of paid leave per year. The leave would be available for certain designated reasons, including illness, illness of the employee’s child, and preventative medical care. Reasons associated with family violence and sexual assault would also be covered.
The bill has important potential implications for employers with hourly employees in the state. In addition to the changes mentioned above, such employers should be aware of the following:
- Upon the hire of eligible employees, employers subject to the bill would be required to provide notice of the employee’s entitlement to paid sick leave.
- Employees would begin to accrue sick time once hired, but could only use it after working for 1,040 hours (approximately 26 weeks for full-time employees).
- Employers who violate the bill would be liable to the Labor Department for a civil penalty of $600 per violation.
- Employers would be prohibited from taking retaliatory action or discriminating against an employee because he or she either requested or used paid sick leave as provided in the bill or filed a complaint with the labor commissioner alleging a violation.
Employers that offer other types of paid leave (e.g., flextime, personal days, etc.) usable for the same designated reasons at an equivalent rate of one hour per 40 hours worked would be in compliance.
Employers would still maintain a level of control over their employees’ use of sick leave. For example, employers would have the right to require up to a week’s notice if the leave is foreseeable. In addition, for sick leave of three or more days, an employer could require documentation, such as a doctor’s note, proving that the leave was used for a valid purpose.
The odds are in favor of this bill passing. The state Senate approved a similar bill last year, but the legislative session ended before the House could approve it.