A new Connecticut law, which will become effective on January 1, 2012, requires a certain amount of paid sick leave for many Connecticut employees. This historic law makes Connecticut the first state to require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Below are the key aspects of the statute:

  • The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees in Connecticut.
  • The law applies only to non-exempt “service workers” paid on an hourly basis. The statute defines service workers broadly and includes such categories as hotel clerks, cooks, food servers, food processing workers, cleaning personnel, barbers/hair stylists, some health care workers, bus drivers, secretaries, pharmacists, and many others. The list of job categories covered by the law is very broad, and one should not assume that simply because the job appears not to be “service” based that the employee is not covered.
  • Day or temporary workers are not covered by the law.
  • Manufacturers and the YMCA are not covered by the law.
  • Covered employees will be entitled to paid sick leave as follows: one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours of work, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. Covered employees may carry over up to 40 hours of accrued but unused sick leave from one calendar year to the next, but they may only use up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in any given calendar year.
  • Covered employees hired prior to January 1, 2012 will be allowed to use their accrued paid sick leave upon completion of 680 hours of work after January 1, 2012. Covered employees hired after January 1, 2012 will be allowed to use their accrued paid sick leave upon completion of 680 hours of work after their hire date (unless the employer agrees to an earlier date).
  • Covered employees are not entitled to use their paid sick leave if they did not work an average of 10 or more hours per week for the employer in the most recent calendar quarter.
  • Employers that already offer “other paid leave,” including paid vacation, personal days or paid time off, will be deemed to comply with the law if the paid time off is accrued at a rate equal to or greater than the rate required under the law. This means that if employers offer one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours worked, they will not be required to provide their employees with additional paid sick leave.
  • Sick leave may be used for the employee’s own condition, care of an ill family member, or attendance to certain matters relating to sexual assault.
  • If a covered employee’s need to use paid sick leave is foreseeable, the employer may require advance notice (though not more than seven days prior to leave). If a covered employee’s need for such leave is not foreseeable, the employer may require notice as soon as practicable.
  • For use of paid sick leave on three or more consecutive days, the employer may require reasonable documentation that such leave is being taken for a legally covered purpose.
  • Unless an employer policy or agreement provides for payment of fringe benefits upon termination, covered employees are not entitled to payment of accrued but unused sick leave upon termination of employment.
  • While the leave requirement applies only to “service employees,” the anti-retaliation provision appears to apply to all employees. Thus, an employer with a paid sick leave policy that applies to other groups of employees may not retaliate against those employees, even if they are not otherwise covered under the paid sick leave law.
  • Employers that are covered by the new law must provide notice to each covered employee, at the time of hiring, including: (1) information about the entitlement to sick leave, including the amount of sick leave available and the terms under which it may be used; (2) notice that retaliation is prohibited against covered employees for requesting or using sick leave for which the employees are eligible; and (3) notice that covered employees have a right to file a complaint with the state Labor Commissioner for any violation of the law. Employers may comply with the notice requirement by displaying a poster with the necessary information in both English and Spanish in a conspicuous place at the employer’s place of business, accessible to covered employees.

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