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CT Is the 1st State To Mandate Paid Sick Leave
By Pamela Wilkens



Connecticut is officially the first state in the country to mandate that employers provide paid sick leave to employees. The new law, effective January 1, 2012, requires certain employers to provide five paid sick days per year to service workers.

So, which employers are covered and who is a service worker?

With limited exceptions any employer that employs 50 or more individuals in Connecticut during any one quarter of the previous year is covered under the law.
Employers must determine whether they are subject to the law as of January 1 of each year. The determination is made based on the quarterly wage information submitted to the Labor Commissioner and because quarterly reporting is cumulative, an employer need not actually have employed 50 individuals at any given time.
Companies that are classified as manufacturers under Sectors 31, 32 or 33 in the North American Industrial Classification System and nationally chartered nonprofit tax-exempt organizations that provide recreation, child care and education services (e.g. the YMCA) are not subject to CPSL.

A service worker is defined as an hourly, part time or full time, nonexempt employee engaged in an occupation that falls under certain broad or detailed occupation code numbers and titles as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupation Classification system. (list of covered occupation codes)

How does sick leave accrue and when and for what can your employees use it?
The law requires that a covered service worker must accrue one hour of paid sick leave for each 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year.
A covered service worker is permitted to use paid sick leave for the following:

• For the service worker, or service worker’s child or spouse’s illness, injury or health condition; the medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental illness or physical illness, injury or health condition; or preventive medical care.

Or

• Where a service worker is a victim of family violence or sexual assault, for medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability; to obtain services from a victim services organization; to relocate due to such family violence or sexual assault; to participant in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from such family violence or sexual assault.
Covered workers may begin using sick leave:

Employees hired before January 1, 2012: after completing 680 hours of work from 1/1/2012 (or employers may consider hours worked prior to 1/1/2012)
Employees hired after January 1, 2012: after completing 680 hours of work.

Anti- Retaliation Provision

The law contains an anti-retaliation provision that forbids employers from taking retaliatory or adverse personnel actions against any service worker or any other employee who request or uses paid sick leave under the law or the employers own policy, or who make a complaint to the labor commissioner alleging a violation of the paid sick leave law.

Prohibited retaliatory or adverse personnel actions include:

Termination Suspension
Constructive Discharge Demotion
Refusal to Promote Unfavorable Assignment
Discipline
Required Notices

Each covered employer must provide notice at time of hire that states:

1. Employee is entitled to paid sick leave, the amount provided and the terms under which it can be used.

2. Employer cannot retaliate against the employee for requesting or using sick leave

3. Employee can file a complaint with the labor commission for any violation.
The DOL has issued a poster that the employer can post in English and Spanish in a conspicuous place, and/or you may incorporate the language into your employee handbook.

Download the poster in English, here: http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/SickLeavePoster2012.pdf

Download the poster in Spanish, here:
http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/DOL_NOTICE_SPANISH_112811.pdf

Penalties for Non-compliance

The potential penalties for non-compliance are steep, including up to $100 for each violation of the general provisions of the bill and up to $500 for each violation of the retaliation provision. The Labor Commissioner can also aware the employee all appropriate relief, including payment for used paid sick leave, reinstatement and back wages.

What steps should employers be taking?

• Determine if you are covered under the law
• Review/revise leave policies (handbooks/manuals)
• Obtain notices for bulletin boards/revise hiring documents
• Train supervisors regarding documentation, recordkeeping and anti- retaliation.

Additional Info:

* Covered employees can carry over unused sick leave into the next calendar year, but are not entitled to use more than 40 hours of leave in any given year.

* Covered employees are not entitled to use accrued paid sick leave unless they have worked an average of 10 or more hours per week for the employer in the most recent complete calendar quarter.

* For purposes of this law, ‘child’ means a biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild, legal ward or a child of a service worker standing in loco parentis, who is

a) Under 18 years of age
b) 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care due to mental or physical disability

* For purposes of this law, ‘spouse’ means a husband or wife (domestic partners are not included)

* Service Workers are required to provide up to 7 days’ notice prior to taking the leave, if it is forseeable; if not, as soon as practicable.

* Employers may only request documentation (a doctors’ note) for 3 or more consecutive work day absences.



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About the Author

Pamela Wilkens, Group Benefit Administrators of CT
23 Maiden Lane
North Haven, CT 06473
203-239-3843

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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