OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6187

AN ACT MANDATING EMPLOYERS PROVIDE PAID SICK LEAVE TO EMPLOYEES.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires all employers with 50 or more employees in the state to provide their employees with paid sick leave accruing at a rate of one hour for each 40 hours worked. Once employed for 120 days, employees are eligible to use the time and may use up to 52 hours of accrued sick leave a year. The leave can be used for an employee's or the employee's child's illness or injury, treatment of an illness or injury, diagnosis, and preventive medical care. It can also be used for reasons related to the employee being a victim of family violence or sexual assault. Current law does not require employers to provide sick leave, whether paid or unpaid.

The bill bans employers from taking retaliatory or discriminatory action against an employee because the employee requests or uses paid sick leave as the bill provides.

It allows complaints to be filed with the labor commissioner, who must administer the law within available appropriations. Employers who violate the bill are liable to the Labor Department for a civil penalty of $ 600 for each violation. The commissioner may award appropriate relief, including rehiring or payment of back wages. Parties may appeal the commissioner's decision to Superior Court.

The bill specifies that it does not preempt the terms of any union contract that is effective before January 1, 2010 or diminish any rights provided to any employee under a union contract.

It requires employers to provide notice to covered employees of the bill's provisions and all rights due to the employees. The commissioner may develop related regulations requiring employers to provide additional means of notifying employees.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2010

PAID SICK LEAVE ( 2)

The bill requires employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave accruing, from the date of employment, at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked. It defines “employer” as any person, firm, business, educational institution, nonprofit agency, corporation, limited liability company, or any other entity, including public sector employers, that employs 50 or more workers in Connecticut.

Once employed for 120 days, employees are entitled to use the time and can use up to 52 hours of accrued sick leave per year. (Employers may allow them to use the sick leave sooner. ) Each employee (1) can accrue up to 52 hours per year and (2) is entitled to carry over up to 52 hours of accrued paid sick leave from one year, whether calendar or fiscal, to the next year.

Any employer that offers employees paid leave that can be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as sick leave under the bill is deemed to be compliant. It appears that in this case, the number of hours does not have to be the same as required by the bill.

The bill specifies that it does not prevent employers from providing a more generous paid leave policy than the bill requires.

Hourly Pay Rate for Sick Leave

The bill requires each employer to pay an employee for sick leave at a pay rate that is the greater of (1) the normal hourly wage for that employee or (2) the minimum hourly wage in effect for the period when the employee used paid sick leave.

Working “Catch up” Hours in Lieu of Sick Leave

The bill allows an employer and employee, by mutual agreement, to have the employee work additional hours or shifts to catch up on time missed for sick leave in lieu of using accrued paid sick leave. The catch-up time must be in the same or following pay period, and the employer is prohibited from requiring the employee to work extra time instead of using paid sick leave.

COVERED EMPLOYEES ( 1)

Under the bill, “employee” means anyone engaged in service to an employer in the employer's business who is (1) paid at an hourly rate or (2) subject to the minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements of the 1938 federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended. Generally, managers who have authority to hire and fire staff, professional occupations (such as lawyers and physicians), and salespeople are exempt from overtime requirements.

The bill specifically exempts day and temporary workers from its provisions. Such a worker is defined as one who performs work for another on (1) a per diem basis or (2) an occasional or irregular basis for only the time required to complete the work, whether such individual is paid by the person for whom such work is performed or by an employment agency or temporary help service, as defined in statute.

PERMITTED USES ( 3(A))

Under the bill, an employer must permit an employee to use paid sick leave for the following reasons:

1. an employee's or the employee's child's illness, injury, or health condition;

2. the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of such a condition; or

3. preventive medical care for an employee or the employee's child.

“Child” is defined as a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, or legal ward of the employee.

An employer must also allow an employee to use paid sick time when the employee is the victim of family violence or sexual assault:

1. for medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability,

2. to obtain services from a victim services organization,

3. to relocate, or

4. to participate in any related civil or criminal legal proceedings.

The bill uses the existing statutory definitions for “family violence” and “sexual assault.

It specifies that its provisions cannot be deemed to require an employer to provide paid sick leave for any other purpose than those stated in the bill.

PERMITTED EMPLOYEE REQUIREMENTS ( 3(B))

The bill permits employers to place certain requirements on employees seeking to use paid sick leave under various circumstances. If the need to use paid sick leave is foreseeable, an employer can require advance notice of the intention to take leave not more than seven days before the date the leave is to begin. If the leave is not foreseeable, an employer can require an employee to give notice as soon as feasible.

For leave of three or more consecutive days, an employer can require reasonable documentation that the leave is being taken for the purposes permitted by the bill. Table 1 shows how the bill defines reasonable documentation.

Table 1: Documentation Needed for Sick Leave

Type of leave

Documentation

Mental or physical illness, treatment of an illness or injury, mental or physical diagnosis, or preventive medical care for the employee or the employee's child

Documentation signed by the health care provider treating the employee or the employee's child and indicating the need for the number of days of such leave

Related to the employee being a victim of family violence or sexual assault

A court record or documentation signed by an employee or volunteer working for a victim services organization, an attorney, police officer, or other counselor involved with the employee

TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT ( 3(D))

The bill does not provide for an employee to receive a payout of accrued but unused sick time upon the employee's termination from employment unless such a payment of accrued benefits is called for in the employment policy or the union contract.

RETALIATION PROHIBITED ( 4(A))

The bill bans any employer from taking “retaliatory personnel action” or discriminating against an employee because the employee (1) requests or uses paid sick leave as provided in the bill or (2) files a complaint with the labor commissioner alleging an employer's violation of the bill.

The bill defines retaliatory personnel action as a termination, suspension, constructive discharge, demotion, unfavorable reassignment, refusal to promote, disciplinary action, or any other adverse employment action taken by an employer against an employee.

PENALTIES ( 4(B))

Violators are liable to the Labor Department for a civil penalty of $ 600 for each violation. The labor commissioner must find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the employer violated the bill. The commissioner also may award appropriate relief, including rehiring or reinstating the person, back wages, and reestablishing employee benefits for which the employee would have been eligible if not for the retaliatory action or discrimination.

Aggrieved parties may appeal the commissioner's decision to Superior Court.

EMPLOYEE NOTICE ( 5)

Each employer subject to the bill must provide notice to each employee at the time of hiring that:

1. the employee is entitled to sick leave, the amount of sick leave provided, and the terms under which sick leave may be used;

2. retaliation by the employer against the employee for requesting or using sick leave is prohibited; and

3. the employee has a right to file a complaint with the labor commissioner for any violation of the bill.

An employer can comply with this requirement by displaying a poster in a conspicuous place, accessible to employees, at the employer's place of business that contains the required information in English and Spanish. The bill authorizes the commissioner to adopt regulations to establish additional notice requirements.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

8

Nay

3

(03/03/2009)