Connecticut 1st State to mandate paid sick leave

On June 8, 2011, Governor Daniel Malloy signed into law An Act Mandating Employers Provide Paid Sick Leave To Employees, Public Act No. 11-52, which made Connecticut the first state in the nation to provide “service workers” with paid sick leave. Beginning on January 1, 2012, the Bill requires certain employers with fifty or more employees in the state to provide employees with forty hours of paid sick leave a year.

Service workers can use paid sick leave:

  • For own illness, injury or health condition; the medical diagnosis, care or treatment of his or hers mental illness, injury or health condition, or preventive medical care;
  • For his or her child’s or spouse’s illness, injury or health condition; the medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a child, parent or spouse; mental illness, injury or health condition, or preventive medical care for a child, parent or spouse;
  • 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.

Foreseeable or unforeseeable sick leave

If the leave is foreseeable, you may require advance notice of up to seven days. If unforeseeable, you may only require notice “as soon as practicable.” You may also require “reasonable documentation” that paid sick leave of three or more consecutive days is being taken for the purposes permitted under the Act. Reasonable documentation in case of illness, injury or health condition of yourself, spouse, parent or child is considered: documentation signed by a health care provider indicating the need for the number of days of the sick leave. In case of family violence or sexual assault a court record or documentation signed by a worker of a victim services organization, police officer or other counselor is considered to be reasonable documentation.

Amount of Sick Pay?

When a service worker requests sick leave, an employer must pay him or her the greater of their normal hourly wage or the state minimum wage at the time they use their sick leave.

How many days Sick Leave?

An employer must provide one hour of paid sick leave for each forty hours worked, up to a maximum of forty hours on annual basis. Service workers are entitled to carry over up to forty hours of paid sick leave from year to year but they cannot use more than forty hours on annual basis. 

Benefits during Sick Leave

Unless an employee policy or collective bargaining agreement provides for the payment of accrued fringe benefits upon termination, no employee shall be entitled to payment of unused accrued sick time under this section upon termination of employment.

Unused Sick Leave

  • Unlike vacation pay, an employer need not pay service workers for their unused accrued sick leave when it terminates them unless the employer has a Company policy or collective bargaining agreement which provides for such payment.
  • If an employer terminates a service worker, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, it is considered a break in service. If the employer later rehires them, it need not recognize any previously accrued unused hours of paid sick leave unless it has agreed to do so.

Violation Sick Leave

Workers who believe they have been denied sick leave, or retaliated against for requesting or taking leave, may file a complaint with the state Labor Commissioner, who may give a civil penalty of up to $600 for each violation. The Commissioner may also award an aggrieved employee “all appropriate relief,” including but not limited to payment for used sick leave, rehiring or reinstatement, and back pay. The Commissioner’s decisions can be appealed to the Superior Court.

Entitled to Sick Leave?

  • If the employee was hired prior to January 1, 2012 or after that date, he or she is entitled to paid sick leave upon the completion of the employee’s 618th hour of employment, unless the employer agrees to an earlier date;
  • An employer need not pay such sick leave if the service worker did not work an average of 10 or more hours a week in the most recent calendar quarter;
  • If an employer already offers its employees at least forty hours of any “other paid leave” that may be used in lieu of sick leave like paid vacation, personal days or paid time off, it will be exempted from providing any additional paid sick leave;
  • And check the section covered or exempt.

Covered or exempt

The Bill applies to most employers in Connecticut who employ fifty or more individuals in the state. The act defines them as:

Workers exempt from the FLSA minimum wage and overtime standards (generally, managers, professionals, salespeople, and certain computer professionals) are excluded from coverage, as are day and temporary workers.

Employer must provide notice about sick leave

A covered employer in Connecticut must provide notice to each service worker upon hiring that:

  • He or she is entitled to paid sick leave;
  • The amount of sick leave provided;
  • Terms under under which sick leave may be used;
  • The employer will not retaliate against a service worker for requesting sick leave;
  • He or she has a right to file a complaint with the Connecticut Labor Commissioner for any violations.

An employer may display a poster, written in both English and Spanish, in a conspicuous place to satisfy these obligations.

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