Connecticut Sick Leave Law: Review for Business Owners

Connecticut Sick Leave Law for Business Owners
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Overview of Connecticut’s Sick Leave Law

The State of Connecticut passed the first Statewide sick leave laws in the country in 2012. Many other states and cities have passed subsequent sick leave laws, with additional provisions and exclusions, and it can become confusing for business owners to comply with the various laws. As Maryland, Washington DC, Massachusetts and other nearby states have followed suit to enact sick leave laws, the exact provisions of Connecticut’s law can become confusing for managers. The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview of Connecticut’s sick leave law for businesses who employ workers in the state.

Meeting the 50 employee threshold

Connecticut provides sick leave for service related employees (listed below) who work in the state. Every employer who has more than 50 employees is accountable to the law. Small businesses with less than 50 employees are not required to provide sick leave to their employees. Workers accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 40 hours of worked time and can accrue up to 40 hours in a calendar year. Hours can be rolled over and the law provides a probationary time and a few exceptions to sick leave allowance.

Employers whose employee number fluctuates over and under 50 employees must use the payroll that contains the date of October 1 to determine if they must pay sick leave the following year. Thus if during the pay period in which October 1 is paid, the employer has 51 employees, even if the rest of the year they only have 47 employees, that employer must pay sick leave benefits in the following calendar year.

It is against the law for an employer to fire, dismiss or transfer an employee during that pay period for the purpose to avoid meeting the 50 employee threshold.

Covered Employees under the Sick leave Law

Service workers are specifically awarded sick leave under the new law. Connecticut outlines over 60 jobs and functions that are eligible for the new sick leave including machine operators, restaurant employees, service guards, and data processing employees.

Medical Related Medical and Health Services Managers Community Health Workers Pharmacists
Home Health Aids Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, except Emergency Medical Technicians Health Practitioner Support Technologists and Technicians
Physician Assistants Therapists Medical Assistants Psychiatric Aids
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses Nurse Practitioners Nurse Midwives Nurse Anesthetics
Registered Nurses Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants Dental Hygienists Dental Assistants
Radiologic Technicians (Added 2014) Food Related Service Workers Supervisor of Food Preparation and Serving Workers Fast Food and Counter Workers
Food Service Managers Bartenders Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers Dishwashers
Food Servers, non-restaurant Misc Food Preparation and Serving related workers Waiters and Waitresses Bakers
Hosts and Hostesses, restaurant, lounge and coffee shop Misc Food Processing Workers Butchers and Other Meat, Poultry, and Fish Processing Workers Clerical and Office Workers
Social Workers Librarians First-Line Supervisors of Sales Workers Tellers
Social and Human Service Assistants Counter and Rental Clerks Retail SalesPerson Data Entry and Information Processing Workers
Cashiers Receptionists and Information Clerks Couriers and Messengers Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Hotel, Motel and Resort Desk Clerks Miscellaneous Office and Administrative Support Workers Desktop Publishers Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks
Statistical Assistants Proofreaders and Copy Markers Mail Clerks and Mail Machine Operators (Except Postal Service) Office Clerks, general
Office Machine Operators, except Computer Computer Operators Other Service Related Workers Crossing Guards
Security Guards Building Cleaning Workers, all others Ushers and Lobby Attendants and Ticket Takers Barbers, hairdressers, Hairstylists and Cosmetologists
Janitor and Maids (Except Housekeeping Cleaners and Maids) Child Care Workers Personal Care Aides Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
Baggage Porters, bellhops, and concierges Bus Drivers

Exclusions to Earned Sick Leave Laws

Employees who businesses employ less than 50 employees are not eligible for the mandatory sick leave benefits. Additionally, temporary employees are also considered exempt to the sick leave laws. Workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA or Union Contract) are also excluded from the sick leave laws. Additionally, there are some specifically named service workers who are named in the law including:

  • Postal workers
  • Housekeeping Cleaners and Maids
  • Certain Manufacturers: Based on how the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) applies to the activities of the manufacturer. Under this definition a manufacturing facility that has multiple locations may have to provide sick leave to the employees at the administrative location, but not to the manufacturing facilities.

Furthermore, any employee who is considered an exempt employee and is exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws according to the Fair Labor Standards Act is exempt from Connecticut’s Sick Leave Law.

Allowable Uses for Accrued Sick  Leave

Employees are allowed to use sick leave for either themselves or for a family member. Allowable sick leave include the following:

  • Illness, injury, or health condition
  • Or to obtain a medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a physical or mental illness
  • Or to obtain preventative care  
  • When the employee or family member is a victim of family violence or sexual assault:
    • to obtain medical, psychological or counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability.
    • To obtain services from a victims services organization
    • To relocate due to family violence or sexual assault
    • To participate in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from family violence or sexual assault.
  • To donate to another worker for allowable uses of sick leave. The donation option of sick leave is optional and is decided by the employer’s employee handbook and policy.

Family Member Definitions

Unlike surrounding states, which have expanded family member definitions, Connecticut only allows for the employee to take off accrued sick and safe time due to themselves, a child or a spouse. Children included are specifically children under the age of 18 or children who are unable to self care due to a mental or physical disability. Connecticut honors the following child-parent relationships: biological,  adopted, foster, legal ward, or in loco parentis.

Accrual of Safe and Sick Time

Service Workers accrue sick and safe time at the rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours of time worked. Workers can earn up to 40 hours of sick leave in a calendar year. Unused hours, up to the 40 hours, can be rolled into the next year. Even when employees roll over sick leave from previous years, they can still be limited to use only 40 hours in a given year.

Employers are allowed to use any 365 day time period, not just a calendar year. Although the original statute specifically defined a calendar year, the law was amended to avoid forcing employers to amend sick leave policies that were more generous, but that used a separate year from the calendar year.

Probationary Period for Sick Leave Usage

Employees immediately start earning sick leave on the first date of employment. However, employers can restrict the use of sick leave for the first 680 hours of employment. For a full time employee, that equates to roughly the first 17 weeks of employment or 85 workdays. This is similar to other states 90 days of probationary period. The Connecticut law also provides that part time employees who averaged a workweek of less than 10 hours the previous quarter can also be restricted from using accrued sick leave.

Minimum Usage and Sick Leave Banks

Sick leave can be used in 1 hour increments. If employment terminates for any reason, whether voluntary or involuntary, any accrued sick leave is lost. There is no sick leave bank provisions for employees. Unlike other states, which allow for accrued sick leave to be reinstated if the employee is rehired during a time period such as 6 months or 1 year, sick leave is lost in Connecticut once employment terminates. The employer can choose to reinstate accrued sick leave, but is not required to by law.  

Front Loading and Coordinating with Paid Time Off Policies

Employers who have more generous sick leave policies can allow for that time to be used to meet the Connecticut sick leave requirements. Additionally, if the employer offers other paid time off including vacation days, personal time, or paid time off that is equal or greater than the required time provided by law.

Reasonable Documentation and Notification of Planned Sick Leave Usage

Connecticut allows for employers to require a 7 day notice when sick leave is foreseeable or planned. If it is not foreseeable, the employer may require notification as soon as it is practical. If the employee takes 3 or more consecutive days of sick leave, then the employer can require documentation that the sick leave was used in accordance with state law.  Documentation can be provided by health service workers who cared for the employee or employee’s family member. It can also include court documentation, or documentation provided by a volunteer or employee of a victims service organization, an attorney, police, or other councilor.

Employees who use sick leave for purposes other than prescribed by law, or by an employer’s broader employment policy can be disciplined by the employer.

Anti Retaliation

Employees who use, attempt to use, or who file a complaint against an employer not complying with sick leave laws are protected against retaliation. Employers who retaliate against an employee who uses or attempts to use sick leave are punishable by the Department of Labor and can be fined. Further, employees can seek redress for retaliation. 

Fines and Remedies provided by the Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

Civil penalties are $500 for each violation. Additionally, additional redemption can be administered to the business in the employee’s behalf. These remedies include, rehiring, reinstatement of the employee’s position, payment of back wages, reestablishment of employment benefits, and other remedies.

Notification and Records

Employers are required to post the Connecticut Sick Leave Law Poster in a conspicuous place that is accessible to service workers. It must be at the employer’s place of business and be in both Spanish and English. Additionally, employers must notify employees upon the date of hire of their sick leave policy and the worker rights under the law. Employees must also be notified that retaliation is prohibited and that they can file a complaint with the Department of Labor.

Connecticut does not have any specific documentation requirements or defined retention period. However, if an employee files a complaint against an employer, it is the employer’s responsibility to prove compliance with sick leave laws. Most states and local jurisdictions require a minimum document retention of 3 years and it would be a best practice for Connecticut businesses to likewise maintain records for up to 3 years. Employers should consider keeping records that outline the employee’s hours worked and accrued hours. They should also maintain records of employees used sick leave hours and any documentation that was required for sick leave uses over 3 consecutive days. Employers should be careful  not to retain private health related information that would violate  HIPAA and other Privacy Laws. A good timekeeping solution can automate the documentation and tracking of sick leave, as well as maintain a good retention policy of employee sick leave usage and accrual.

Let SwipeClock Help

Businesses who have employees in Connecticut and surrounding states may have to comply with multiple conflicting City ordinances defining Sick leave accrual and usage laws. Additionally, these businesses have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Leave Medical Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws. Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according to the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated January 10, 2017

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