On July 1, 2011, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to require employers provide employees with paid sick leave. The new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2012, applies to businesses in the service industry with 50 or more employees in Connecticut (excluding those employers which provide child care, recreational, or educational services). The following are some of the new law’s major provisions:
- The new law applies to “service workers” (including but not limited to medical assistants, security guards, food service workers, administrative assistants, and taxi drivers) who are non-exempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and who work an average of at least 10 hours per week.
- Under the new law, covered service workers accrue (1) hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, capped at a maximum of forty (40) hours per year.
- The law does not apply to “per diem” workers and “temporary workers” (as defined by the new law).
- Paid sick time can be used for any of the following purposes:
- The employee’s illness, injury or health conditions;
- The medical diagnosis, care or treatment of the employee’s mental or physical illness;
- Preventative medical care for the employee;
- The employee’s child’s or spouse’s illness, injury or health conditions;
- The medical diagnosis, care or treatment of the employee’s child’s or spouse’s mental or physical illness, injury or health conditional;
- Preventative medical care for the employee’s child or spouse; and
- Medical and psychological services relating to sexual assault or family violence.
- Covered service workers begin accruing paid sick leave on January 1, 2012 (or their date of hire if hired after January 1, 2012), and may use accrued sick leave once they have worked six-hundred and eighty (680) hours.
- Covered service workers may carry over up to forty (40) unused accrued hours of paid sick leave into the following calendar year, provided no employee is allowed to use more than forty (40) hours of paid sick leave in a given year.
- Absent obligations under an employee policy or collective bargaining agreement, employers do not have to “pay out” accrued but unused paid sick leave upon termination of employment.
- Sick leave pay equals either the service worker’s normal hourly wage or the Connecticut minimum fair wage rate under section 31-58, whichever is greater.
Employers with preexisting paid time off policies should review their policies to ensure compliance with Connecticut’s new law well before the January 1, 2012 effective date. Under the new law’s “safe harbor” provision, covered employers who employ service workers may comply with the new law by implementing (or continuing to offer) paid time off policies which are at least as generous as, and no more restrictive than, the new paid sick leave law.