Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Connecticut Requires Paid Sick Leave for “Service Workers”

Connecticut has passed a law requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to service workers. “An Act Mandating Employers Provide Paid Sick Leave To Employees” was signed into law on June 8, 2011, making Connecticut the first state in the nation to require that employers provide “service workers” with paid sick leave beginning on Jan. 1, 2012.

The law requires certain employers with 50 or more employees in the state to provide “service workers” with 40 hours of paid sick leave a year. “Service worker” is broadly defined as an hourly nonexempt employee who is primarily engaged in one of the following occupational areas: Hospitality, Healthcare, Retail, Administrative Support, Food Preparation, Personal Transportation, and Health & Beauty. Some employers, such as those providing services in recreation, child care, and education, are exempt.

The law provides that a service worker can use paid sick leave (i) for his or her own illness, injury or health condition; (ii) for his or her child’s or spouse’s illness, injury or health condition, or (iii) where he or she is a victim of family violence or sexual assault (to seek medical care or counseling, to obtain services from a victim services organization, to relocate due to the assault, or to participate in any civil or criminal proceedings related to the assault). An employer may require a service worker to provide notice if the leave is foreseeable, and if not, it may require notice as soon as possible. For paid sick leave that lasts three or more consecutive days, an employer may require documentation.

The law includes anti-retaliation provisions which protect not only service workers but all employees seeking paid sick leave under an employer’s policy. Therefore, if an employer with 50 or more employees has a paid sick leave policy, they are prohibited from retaliating against any employee who requests sick leave pursuant to that policy.

 A covered employer in Connecticut must provide notice to each service worker upon hiring that they are entitled to paid sick leave, that the employer will not retaliate against them for requesting such leave and that they have a right to file a complaint with the Connecticut Labor Commissioner for any violations.

The law provides for civil penalties of up to $100 for each violation, and if an employer retaliates against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the law, it will incur a civil penalty of $500 for each violation.
Employers in Connecticut that have 50 or more employees should review their policies and procedures to ensure that they begin compensating covered employees for sick leave by Jan. 1, 2012.

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