Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: February 14th Public Hearing

On Thursday, February 14, 2019, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee will conduct a public hearing on the following proposed bills:

S.B. No. 1 AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE. Resuscitating a proposal from the most recent legislative sessions, this bill would provide paid family and medical leave benefits to eligible employees (namely, all private sector employees, and public employees whose unions collectively bargain for them to join this program) and also would make other changes to the state’s Family and Medical Leave Act [“FMLA”]. Specifically, this bill would create a “Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program” that will offer (1) up to 12 workweeks of “family and medical leave compensation” to covered employees during any 12 month period, and (2) two additional weeks of compensation to such an employee for a serious health condition that occurs during a pregnancy that results in incapacitation. The Program will be funded by employee contributions to the “Family and Medical Leave Insurance Trust Fund”, to be collected on or before July 1, 2020, and would begin to provide compensation to employees on and after July 1, 2021.  This bill also (1) extends the applicability of the state’s FMLA to all private employers with at least one employee (as opposed to the current 75 employee threshold), (2) changes the state FMLA’s minimum eligibility requirement for employees, from working at least 12 months for the current employer, and at least 1000 hours during the previous 12 months, to earning $2,325 from one or more employers during the employee’s highest earning quarter during the previous five quarters, (3) aligns the maximum amount of leave under the state FMLA with the federal FMLA requirement (i.e., 12 weeks of leave during any 12 month period), (4) broadens the definition of “parent” and adds siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and “any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family member” to the list of family members for whom an employee can take FMLA “caregiver” leave, and (5) eliminates an employer’s ability to require an employee taking FMLA leave to use his or her employer-provided paid leave.

H.B. No. 5003 AN ACT IMPLEMENTING A PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE PROGRAM. This bill is remarkably similar to S.B. No. 1, above.

Proposed S.B. No. 356 AN ACT REQUIRING A STUDY CONCERNING GERMANY'S APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING PROGRAM. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would require the Department of Labor to study Germany's apprenticeship training program and report back on the results of such study to the General Assembly.

Proposed S.B. No. 360 AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROCESSING OF WORK OPPORTUNITY TAX CREDIT APPLICATIONS. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would require the Department of Labor to process applications for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and issue the tax credit certifications “in a timely manner.”

Proposed S.B. No. 697 AN ACT CONCERNING NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS IN THE WORKPLACE. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would place unspecified restrictions on workplace nondisclosure agreements so as to “prohibit the silencing of victims in the workplace and to prevent sexual harassment by repeat offenders.”

Proposed S.B. No. 700 AN ACT CONCERNING ELECTRONIC RECORDKEEPING AND RESTAURANT SERVICE EMPLOYEES. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would allow for the electronic signature or verification by an employee or employer in the restaurant industry when distinguishing between service and nonservice duties on a time card or tip statement.

Proposed S.B. No. 765 AN ACT ENSURING FAIR AND EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would ensure that “all employees receive fair and equal pay for equal work.”

Proposed H.B. No. 5053 AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO INCREASE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PERSONS RECOVERING FROM SUBSTANCE ABUSE. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would create a task force to investigate strategies for increasing employment opportunities for persons recovering from substance abuse.

Proposed H.B. No. 6111 AN ACT AUTHORIZING EMPLOYERS TO ENROLL EMPLOYEES IN DIRECT PAYCHECK DEPOSIT PROGRAMS. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would allow employers with at least 25 employees to automatically enroll their employees into direct paycheck deposit programs and provide that any such employee may opt-out of such program and elect to be paid by either cash or check.

Proposed H.B. No. 6113 AN ACT PROHIBITING EMPLOYERS FROM INQUIRING ABOUT DATE OF BIRTH OR DATE OF GRADUATION ON EMPLOYMENT APPLICATIONS. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would explicitly prohibit employers from inquiring about date of birth or date of graduation on employment applications.

Proposed H.B. No. 6508 AN ACT CONCERNING INVESTMENT IN THE CONSTRUCTION JOB WORKFORCE FOR LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would “create a construction job career path for low-income residents and ensure successful employment” through a broadly stated 25% hiring requirement in state construction contracts.

Proposed H.B. No. 6739 AN ACT PROHIBITING EMPLOYERS FROM PAYING DISABLED EMPLOYEES LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would prohibit employers from paying less than the state’s minimum wage to disabled employees.

Proposed H.B. No. 6913 AN ACT CONCERNING COVENANTS NOT TO COMPETE. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would prohibit employers from requiring unspecified “certain employees” from signing “unfair” covenants not to compete.

Proposed H.B. No. 6928 AN ACT CONCERNING TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES AND PAID SICK LEAVE. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would “ensure that day and temporary workers are provided paid sick leave annually from temporary employment agencies and their subsidiaries.”

Proposed H.B. No. 7043 AN ACT CONCERNING BREASTFEEDING IN THE WORKPLACE. As currently written, this skeletal proposed bill would amend current laws so as to require employers to: (1) Make reasonable efforts to provide a lactation room in the workplace and that such lactation room a) be private, free from intrusion and shielded from the public, b) include or be situated near a refrigerator where an employee can store express breast milk, and c) include access to an electrical outlet; and (2) provide breastfeeding support for up to three years from the date of the child's birth.

The hearing on the above bills will take place on February 14, 2019 at 2:00 P.M. in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building.   

To repeat my standard warningThe fact that a public hearing has been scheduled on these bills is not necessarily an indication that the Committee will pass them, but it is at least an indication that they are under serious consideration.  When these bills have been fully drafted (especially those currently stated in a skeletal concept format), and if they advance toward a vote by the Committee and the full General Assembly, we will provide more detail as to their contents.

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Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits practice on such workplace topics as labor and employment law, counseling and training, litigation, union issues, as well as employee benefits and ERISA matters.

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