OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5371

AN ACT CONCERNING A MINIMUM WORKWEEK FOR PERSONS PERFORMING BUILDING MAINTENANCE SERVICES.

SUMMARY:

Beginning January 1, 2017, this bill requires certain employers to provide a 30-hour minimum workweek for their employees who perform building care or maintenance work, including work customarily performed by cleaners, porters, janitors, handypersons, and security guards (i.e., “building maintenance service”). The requirement does not apply to (1) temporary employees, (2) people with disabilities who participate in the state's janitorial work program for people with disabilities, or (3) employees on voluntary leave.

The bill requires employers to provide notice to their affected employees of (1) the 30-hour minimum workweek entitlement and (2) their right to file a complaint with the Department of Labor (DOL) for any violation of the bill.

The bill authorizes DOL to impose civil penalties on employers that violate workweek and notice provisions. It also prohibits employers from (1) retaliating against an employee for filing a complaint under the bill or (2) hindering or delaying the labor commissioner's efforts to enforce the bill.

It requires the labor commissioner to administer this law within available appropriations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016

COVERED EMPLOYERS AND LOCATIONS

The bill applies to employers, including any person, firm, business, educational institution, or nonprofit agency, and the state and its municipalities, that:

1. directly employ at least one covered employee,

2. contract or subcontract for the services of at least one covered employee,

3. own or operate a covered location, or

4. lease any portion of a covered location and directly employ at least one covered employee or contract or subcontract with at least one covered employee.

The “covered locations” are:

1. office buildings with at least 100,000 square feet;

2. private or public higher education institutions; or

3. museums, as defined in statute.

The bill further defines an “office building” as (1) an industrial, commercial, or business facility; (2) a continuous, commonly owned office park; or (3) a group of office buildings that have common ownership or management and are contiguous or have consecutive addresses.

COVERED EMPLOYEES' WORKWEEK

The bill requires, beginning January 1, 2017, a covered employee's minimum workweek to be 30 hours. Under the bill, a "workweek" is a fixed, regularly recurring 168-hour period or seven consecutive 24-hour periods. (Presumably, the law would not supersede union contracts already in place on January 1, 2017. In those cases, it would take effect after the current contract expired.)

Covered employees are people performing building maintenance service in or about a covered location. The requirement does not apply to employees who (1) only perform building maintenance service temporarily to replace another covered employee on leave or (2) work under a contract (a) for people with disabilities who are eligible to participate in the state's janitorial work program for people with a disability or a disadvantage and (b) that conforms with state and federal laws regarding employing people with disabilities.

Voluntary Leaves

The 30-hour minimum workweek requirement does not apply to weeks in which an employee is voluntarily taking any paid or unpaid temporary leave under (1) federal or state law, (2) a written employee handbook, or (3) a written request from the worker.

NOTICE

The bill requires covered employers to provide notice about the 30-hour minimum work week and the workers' right to file a complaint with DOL. An employer can comply by displaying a poster in a conspicuous, accessible place at the work site and his or her place of business. The poster must contain the information in English and Spanish. The bill allows the labor commissioner to adopt regulations for additional notice requirements.

ENFORCEMENT

The bill allows a worker aggrieved by an employer's failure to meet any of the bill's requirements to file a complaint with the labor commissioner, who can hold a hearing. After a hearing, an employer found in violation of the minimum work week requirement by a preponderance of the evidence must pay DOL a civil penalty of up to (1) $500 for the first violation and (2) $1,000 for any subsequent violation. An employer found in violation of the notice requirement by a preponderance of the evidence must pay DOL a civil penalty of up to $100 for each day of the violation, up to a $500 maximum.

The labor commissioner may also award a covered employee all appropriate relief, including reinstatement, back pay, medical costs incurred during the time the employee was entitled to and denied the minimum workweek, liquidated damages up to $100 per day for each day the employer violated the bill, and reasonable attorney's fees.

Any party aggrieved by the commissioner's decision may appeal to the Superior Court under the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act.

The bill's definition of covered employers includes (1) employers who contract with another party to provide building maintenance services for a covered location and (2) contractors who provide such services. In situations where a contractor is providing maintenance service for a building, it is unclear whether the bill's employer provisions apply to the party paying for the service or the contractor who provides it. Presumably only one or the other would be considered the employer for enforcement purposes.

EMPLOYER PROHIBITIONS

The bill also prohibits employers from (1) retaliating against employees who file complaints, provide information, or testify in connection with an inquiry or proceeding under the law or (2) hindering or delaying the labor commissioner's efforts to enforce the law, including refusing to submit reports or records. A violation of either of these prohibitions is a violation of the bill, although the bill does not specify the penalties for these violations.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

7

Nay

6

(03/10/2016)