OLR Bill Analysis

HB 6914

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

SUMMARY

Beginning January 1, 2018, this bill requires certain employers to provide a 30-hour minimum workweek for any employee who performs building care or maintenance work in certain locations, including work customarily performed by cleaners, porters, janitors, handypersons, and security guards (“covered employees”). The requirement does not apply to (1) people with disabilities providing service under certain contracts, (2) temporary employees, or (3) employees on voluntary leave.

The bill requires employers to provide notice to their covered employees of (1) the 30-hour minimum workweek entitlement and (2) their right to file a (a) complaint with the Department of Labor (DOL) or (b) civil lawsuit against an employer for any violation of the bill. The bill authorizes both the labor commissioner and a court of appropriate jurisdiction to award relief. The administrative and civil court paths for redress of a violation can be pursued at the same time.

The bill requires the labor commissioner to administer these provisions within available appropriations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

COVERED EMPLOYEES, EMPLOYERS, AND LOCATIONS

Covered employees are people performing building maintenance service in or about a covered location. They do not include 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.

A “covered employer” is any person, firm, business, educational institution, nonprofit agency, and the state and its municipalities, that:

1. directly employs at least one covered employee,

2. contracts or subcontracts for the services of at least one covered employee,

3. owns or operates a covered location, or

4. leases any portion of a covered location and directly employs at least one covered employee or contracts or subcontracts with at least one covered employee.

The “covered location” is:

1. a covered office location with at least 100,000 square feet;

2. a private or public higher education institution; or

3. a museum, as defined in statute.

The bill further defines a “covered office location” 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. The bill excludes any location where the janitorial contract is intended to create work opportunities for people with disabilities and the contract procurement process conforms with state and federal law for that purpose.

COVERED EMPLOYEES' WORKWEEK

The bill requires, beginning January 1, 2018, 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, 2018. In those cases, it would take effect after the current contract expired.)

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 (1) a complaint with the labor commissioner or (2) a civil suit against an employer for any violation of the bill. 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.

DOL COMPLAINTS

The bill allows a worker aggrieved by a 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, a covered 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.

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.

The bill's definition of covered employers includes (1) employers who contract with another party to provide building maintenance services for a covered location, (2) contractors who provide such services, and (3) covered location owners. In situations where a contractor is providing maintenance service for a building, it is unclear whether the bill's minimum workweek provisions apply to the party paying for the service, the contractor who provides it, or the property owner. Presumably, only one of these parties would be considered the employer for enforcement purposes.

A covered 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.

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

CIVIL COURT ACTION

The bill specifies that it does not prohibit a covered employee from seeking relief in a court of competent jurisdiction, which may order relief including reinstatement, back pay, medical costs incurred during the time the employee was entitled to and denied the minimum workweek, and damages in the amount of up to $100 a day. It is not clear how a court would handle a complaint if the employee seeking relief also had a pending complaint with the labor department and there is the potential for the employee to be awarded relief from both authorities.

EMPLOYER PROHIBITIONS

It also prohibits covered employers from (1) retaliating against an employee for filing a complaint, instituting any proceeding, or cooperating with a proceeding under the bill or (2) hindering or delaying the labor commissioner's efforts to enforce the bill, including refusing to make available to the commissioner any records that he requires for an investigation. A violation of either of these prohibitions is a violation of the bill, although the bill does not specify penalties for these violations.

SEVERABILITY

The bill specifies that if any provision of the bill is found to be invalid or incapable of being enforced, that provision will be excluded and all other aspects of the bill will remain in full force and effect.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

7

Nay

6

(03/09/2017)