Labor and Public Employees Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5278

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING PAID SICK LEAVE FOR EMERGENCY MEDICAL DISPATCHERS AND CALL RECEIVING OPERATORS.

Vote Date:

3/2/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

1/31/2017

File No.:

65

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Labor and Public Employees Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Emergency Medical Dispatchers and Call Receiving Operators' job classifications are not included under the existing paid sick leave law.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Representative Sean Scanlon

Paid sick leave benefits individual employees in the State of Connecticut, as well as the general public. People who serve the public should be allowed sufficient time to recover from illnesses before returning to work; and the public greatly benefits by the reduction in the spread of sicknesses and by having a fully functional and healthy employee to provide quality service. Emergency medical dispatchers and call receiving operators can be the difference between life and death situations. Under the existing paid sick leave law, their life-saving professions could potentially encourage dispatchers and operators to report to work sick out of fear of missing a paycheck or losing their job.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Maureen Alex, Medical Response dispatcher

Ms. Alex is a medical response dispatcher for the last 23 years working both full-time and part-time. As a part-time employee, she never received sick time leave but thinks it is important for all employees. Maureen supports this bill and hopes that legislation is passed.

Gregory B. Allard, Vice-President, American Ambulance Service, Inc. & Vice-President, Association of CT Ambulance Providers

American Ambulance Service, Inc. voluntarily provides paid sick leave benefit to their dispatch and call taking team members. With no fiscal note attached to this bill, Mr. Allard hopes that this bill will create a standard for those working in this profession in the State of Connecticut.

Lindsay Farrell, Connecticut Working Families Organization

Ms. Farrell testified that this legislation is rooted in the right spirit, but is far too narrow in scope. Medical dispatchers and call operators deserve paid sick leave, however all job classifications are deserving of this same benefit. Ms. Farrell identifies two major flaws in the existing bill as written: the business threshold of employee size of 50 is too high and still leaves too many employees out of the threshold for coverage and the list of job classifications is arbitrary, exclusionary and insufficient and should include all employees. She notes that our neighboring state of Massachusetts' business threshold is only 11 employees.

Francesca Gagliardi, AMR Communications

A part-time employee of AMR Communications in New Haven, Ms. Gagliardi currently does not accrue sick or vacation time. She believes this bill is important for all dispatchers and call receiving operators.

Theresa Lipka, EMD/CRO, American Medical Response (AMR)

Ms. Lipka has been employed at AMR in New Haven as an EMD/CRO for four years. Though she is full-time employee, Ms. Lipka believes that part-time employees should be able to accrue sick time.

Robert Newfield, Paramedic/Dispatcher

Mr. Newfield is a paramedic/dispatcher who supports the bill because of the nature of the job role as a part of the emergency response system. However his concern is that the bill specifically names the job classifications as dispatchers and call operators and employers may try to circumvent the law by changing the job title or classification for employees.

Mark Dubroski, Dispatcher

Mr. Dubroski supports the bill and feels as though dispatchers have been overlooked and appreciates the efforts by the Committee to pass this legislation.

Tyla Gee, American Medical Response (AMR)

As a public servant working at AMR, she feels that part-timers should receive sick time and this bill should be made into law.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Betsy Gara, Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST)

The Paid Sick Leave Act (PA 11-52) limited the scope of its application to service workers and this limitation served to mitigate the employer costs associated with mandatory paid sick leave. COST has concerns with this bill primarily because it expands the original concept of PA 11-52 to now include employees of municipalities. This could impose a significant burden on municipalities at a time when towns are struggling to address budget shortfalls due to midyear state funding cuts. Costs associated with unfunded mandates add to the burden of property taxpayers and make it difficult to deliver critical, core services to residents.

William Schietinger, General Manager, American Medical Response (AMR), Fairfield County

For the following reasons, Mr. Schietinger is opposed to this proposed bill which further expands the current paid leave act:

● EMS dispatchers, call receiving operators along with multiple other job classifications were exempted because the main objective was to extend coverage to part-time and non-exempt employees who were at the lower end of the compensation scale. Full-time EMS dispatchers and call center employees generally have some form of PTO and part-timers are generally employed full-time as EMTs, paramedics, and etc where they already receive equivalent or better sick pay.

● Application of the existing law sought to limit the financial burden for certain employers and EMS call centers cannot be short-staffed which will increase overtime shift pay.

● The cumulative impact of other state and federal government mandates should be taken into consideration when introducing this new mandate and its effects on employers.

Reported by: Sonya Jelks

Date: March 21, 2017