Starting what may be a trend, Connecticut becomes the first state to require paid sick leave. Effective January 1, 2012, employers (any person, firm, business, educational institution, nonprofit agency, corporation, or limited liability company) who employ 50 or more individuals in Connecticut, in any one quarter in the previous year, must provide paid sick leave to service workers. A service worker means an employee engaged in an occupation code number and title, as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification System or any successor system. Service workers include, but are not limited to, food service managers, social workers, security guards, cooks, food preparation workers, bartenders, fast food counter workers, waiters and waitresses, barbers, hairdressers, counter clerks and retail sales employees. Manufacturing, day and temporary workers are not considered service workers.
Paid sick leave must accrue beginning on January 1, 2012, or, for a service worker hired after this date, beginning on the service worker’s date of employment at a rate of one hour of paid sick leave for each 40 hours worked by a service worker, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. A service worker is entitled to use the accrued sick leave upon completion of 680 hours of employment. A service worker can use paid sick leave for his/her own illness, injury, health condition and/or preventive medical care and those of a spouse or child. If the need to use paid sick leave is foreseeable, an employer may require advance notice, not to exceed seven days. If the leave is not foreseeable, an employer may require a service worker to give notice as soon as possible.
Employees may file complaints with the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner may hold a hearing. After a hearing, if an employer is found to have retaliated or discriminated against the employee for requesting or using paid leave, the employer is liable to the Labor Department for a civil penalty of $500 per violation. If an employer simply fails to provide the leave and/or fails to administer it properly, the employer is liable to the Labor Department for a civil penalty of up to $100 per violation. The Labor Commissioner may also award the employee all appropriate relief, including the payment for used paid sick leave, rehiring or reinstatement to the employee’s previous job, payment of back wages and reestablishment of the employee benefits to which the employee otherwise would have been eligible.