Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: The Labor and Public Employees Committee Has Spoken (Part One-Expansion of Rights)
CT General Assembly - Building

Following its initial action, see Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: The Labor and Public Employees Committee Begins to Speak, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee likely finished up its work for this legislative session and approved a final flurry of bills that would expand workers’ rights and protections.  Some of these bills (e.g., paid sick leave expansion and scheduling changes) reflect trends that have been occurring in other states and/or had been considered in prior legislative sessions but never came to fruition. 

Here is a summary of the approved bills (which now await action by the full General Assembly):  

PAID SICK LEAVE: S.B. No. 1178 (“An Act Expanding Connecticut Paid Sick Days”) contains similar provisions to a bill from the 2022 session of the General Assembly that did not pass.  This bill would, among other things, revise the state’s current paid sick leave law by: 1) covering all private sector employers (as opposed to just those employers with at least 50 employees and just “service workers”); 2) broadening the types of family members for whom an employee may use the leave (for care) from just children and spouses to include adult children, siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and “anyone related by blood or affinity whose close association is the equivalent” of these family members (which is similar to the provisions of Connecticut’s FMLA); 3) increasing the rate at which employees accrue leave (one hour accrued for every 30 hours worked instead of the current 40 hours); 4) increasing the maximum amount of leave that an employee can accrue from 40 hours to 80 hours; and 5) broadening the reasons for which an employee may use sick leave to include when the employer’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, or when an employee needs to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed by such an order.  While expanding the reach of the law beyond “service workers,” there is an exception for certain union construction workers. The bill provides that exempt employees (i.e., salaried employees not entitled to overtime pay) shall be assumed to work 40 hours in each work week for purposes of paid sick leave accrual, unless their normal work week is less than 40 hours, in which case paid sick leave shall accrue based upon the hours worked in that normal work week.

The bill provides that an employer may not require documentation for leave to explain the nature of the illness or the details of the family violence or sexual assault. In addition, if an employer chooses to require documentation for paid sick leave and the employer does not offer health insurance to the employee, the employer shall pay all out-of-pocket expenses the employee incurs in obtaining the documentation. If the employee has health insurance, the employer shall pay any costs charged to the employee by the health care provider for providing the specific documentation required by the employer.  The employer shall pay any costs charged to the employee for documentation of family violence or sexual assault required by the employer. The bill prohibits an employer from requiring that the employee search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours for which the employee is using paid sick leave as a condition for receiving such leave. The bill also provides a private right of action for violations of the paid sick leave law and imposes further record keeping and posting requirements.  

YET ANOTHER PROPOSED PAID SICK LEAVE BILL: H.B. No. 6668 (“An Act Modernizing The Paid Sick Days Statutes”) also would make revisions to the paid sick statutes. In addition to expanding the reach of the law beyond “services workers,” this bill would cover all private sector employers with at least 11 employees.  The bill requires employers with 10 or fewer employees to give their employees unpaid, job protected sick leave under the same provisions that the law otherwise requires for paid sick leave. This bill contains provisions nearly identical to S.B. 1178 (see above) with respect to: a) extending the definition of family members for whom an employee may use the leave; b) increasing the rate at which employees accrue leave (one hour accrued for every 30 hour worked instead of the current 40 hours); and c) broadening the reasons for which an employee may use sick leave to include when the employer’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency. 

DISCSLOSURE OF SALARY RANGES AND POSTINGS: H.B. No. 6273 (“An Act Concerning Disclosure Of Salary Ranges On Public And Internal Job Postings”) would amend a recent law regarding salary disclosure by requiring employers to disclose, in each public and internal posting for each job, promotion, transfer or other employment opportunity, the wage or wage range, and a general description of the benefits, including, but not limited to, health benefits, retirement benefits, paid days off and tax reportable benefits, and other compensation to be offered. The bill provides that it should not be construed to require an employer to use a public or internal posting to advertise a job, promotion, transfer or other employment opportunity if the employer uses an alternative method of hiring; if such an alternative method was utilized, then the employer would have to provide such wage/benefit information about the position: a) upon the applicant’s request; or b) if not so requested, prior to any offer or discussion of compensation. The bill also requires employers to provide this information to its employees annually. Furthermore, this bill revises the current law’s definition of “wage range” so as to constitute the range of wages for a position “set in good faith” by reference to an applicable pay scale, previously determined wage range for the position, actual wages for the employee currently holding the position, actual wage range for employees currently holding comparable positions, or the employer’s budgeted amount for the position. This bill’s provisions would apply to remote positions held by out of state employees where they have to report to an in-state supervisor, office or work site. 

SCHEDULE PREDICTABLITY FOR RETAIL/FOOD SERVICES/HOSPITALITY: H.B. No. 6859 (“An Act Concerning Predictable Scheduling”) contains similar provisions to a bill from the 2022 session of the General Assembly that did not pass. This bill would apply to retail, food services and hospitality establishments that employ at least 500 employees globally (and franchisees thereof). The bill would require covered employers to: 1) obtain from employees upon hire a written statement of the employee's desired number of weekly work hours and the days and times the employee is available to work (with the employee having the right to modify such statement at any time); and 2) provide an employee upon hire with a written “good faith” estimate of the employee's work schedule, which must contain: a) the average, minimum and maximum numbers of work hours the employee can expect to work each week; b) the minimum length of shifts that the employee can expect to work; and c) the number of days, the amount of time and the number of shifts that the employee can expect to work, and days of the week and times or shifts on which the employee will not be scheduled to work. An employer may modify the estimate if there is a significant change due to changes in the employee's availability or to the employer's business needs.  The bill provides that an employer is not in violation of these provisions when an employee's average weekly work hours significantly exceed the number provided in the written estimate if the employer makes every effort to schedule the employee for the employee's desired number of weekly work hours.

The bill provides that by the date of an employee's first shift, the employer shall provide to the employee the employee's work schedule for the next seven-day period. Thereafter, at least fourteen days prior to the first date of the seven-day period of any work schedule, an employer shall post the work schedule in a conspicuous place accessible to all employees and shall transmit the schedule to each employee. The work schedule shall identify all employees currently employed at the worksite, whether or not such employees are scheduled to work any hours in the schedule. An employer shall provide to each employee written notice of any work schedule change as soon as possible and prior to such change taking effect.  Not later than 24 hours after making a change to the work schedule, the employer shall revise the posted work schedule to reflect the change. An employee may decline to work any hours not included in the posted work schedule. If the employee voluntarily consents to work such hours, such consent shall be recorded in writing. An employer shall pay an employee: 1) One hour of pay at the employee's  regular rate for each instance that the employer (fewer than seven days prior to the commencement of scheduled work hours) adds one or more  hours of work or changes the date, time or location of a work shift without a reduction of hours; and 2) one-half of the employee's regular rate for any scheduled work hours the employee does not work due to the employer cancelling or reducing the employee's scheduled work: a) After the employee reports to work such scheduled work hours; or b) fewer than seven days in advance.  These provisions do not apply where an employee's scheduled work hours are changed due to: 1) The employee's written request, including (but not limited to) a request to use sick leave, vacation leave or other leave pursuant to the employer's policy; 2) a mutually agreed-upon shift trade or coverage arrangement between employees, subject to an existing employer policy; or 3) the inability of the employer's operations to begin or continue due to: a) the failure of a public utility or the shutdown of public transportation, b) fire, flood or other natural disaster, or c) an emergency declaration issued by the president or the governor. 

This bill also provides that an employee may decline to work any shift that begins fewer than 11 hours after the end of the employee's previous day's shift (or during the 11-hour period following the end of a shift that spanned more than one day). If an employee consents to work such shift, such consent shall be in writing and the employee shall be compensated at one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay. The bill provides that an employee may request adjustments to such employee's work schedule, including, but not limited to, requests: 1) not to be scheduled for work shifts during certain days or times or at certain locations; 2) for certain hours, days or locations of work; 3) for more or fewer work hours; and 4) to be scheduled consistently for a specified or minimum number of weekly work hours. The employer shall then engage in an “interactive process” to discuss such employee requests but may grant or deny the request for any bona fide business reason that is not unlawful. 

Wait, there is even more.  The bill provides that prior to hiring additional employees, any covered employer shall make every effort to schedule existing employees for their desired number of work hours identified in the employees’ written statements of availability (provided that employers may hire new employees if existing employees lack and cannot obtain with training the necessary qualifications for the positions being filled). If an employer fails to make this offer before hiring new employees, the employer must compensate the existing employees for hours worked by the new employees that occurred within the existing employees’ written availability.  The bill imposes record-keeping requirements, imposes fines for violations, and provides for a private cause of action for aggrieved employees and whistleblowers.

WAREHOUSE DISRIBUTION CENTERS: S.B. No. 152 (“An Act Concerning The Protection Of Warehouse Workers”) contains similar provisions to a bill from the 2022 session of the General Assembly that did not pass.  This bill would cover employees at certain “warehouse distribution centers” and would require employers to provide each employee a written description of each performance quota to which the employee is subject (and potential adverse employment actions an employee may suffer for a failure to meet the quota). An employer may not take adverse action against an employee for failure to meet a quota that has not been disclosed. 

An employee shall not be required to meet any quota that prevents compliance with the duty-free lunch/meal periods laws, or the Occupational Safety and Health Act, along with “the use of bathroom facilities, including the reasonable time to travel to and from bathroom facilities.”  Any current or former employee who believes that meeting a quota caused a violation of these rights may request a written description of each quota to which the employee is subject and a copy of the employee's own personal work speed data for the most recent 90 days. An employer that receives such a request shall comply with it as soon as practicable, but not later than 21 days after the request.

The bill further provides that there shall be a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation if an employer in any manner discriminates, retaliates or takes any adverse action against any employee within 90 days after the employee: 1) Initiates the employee's first request in a calendar year for such information about a quota or personal work speed data; or 2) makes a complaint related to a quota alleging any violation of these provisions to the Labor Commissioner.  The bill provides a right to seek redress for such violations through either administrative proceedings before the Department of Labor or a private right of action in the Superior Court.   

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE AND LABOR DISPUTES: S.B. No. 228 (“An Act Concerning Employees' Loss Of Health Care Coverage As A Result Of A Labor Dispute”) would provide for a special enrollment period on Connecticut’s health insurance exchange for individuals whose health care coverage is terminated by an employer as a result of a labor dispute

CONSECUTIVE WORKDAYS: S.B. No. 489 (“An Act Limiting The Days An Employer Can Mandate An Employee To Work”) would prohibit an employer from: 1) compelling an employee engaged in any “commercial occupation” or “in the work of any industrial process” to work more than six consecutive days; or 2) discharging the employee for refusing to do so. The law currently bans such employers from compelling their employees to work more than six days in a calendar week.

Stay tuned for more.

Please contact any of Pullman & Comley's Labor and Employment Law attorneys should you have any questions.

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