Connecticut will become the first state in the nation to require private-sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The new law, which will take effect on January 1, 2012, applies generally to companies with 50 or more employees in Connecticut, but exempts manufacturers and certain non-profit corporations. Employers covered by the law must provide "service workers," as defined broadly by the law, with one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employees who are exempt from minimum wage and overtime payment requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act are excluded from the definition of "service worker," as are day or temporary workers. Service workers will generally become eligible to accrue paid sick leave after 680 hours of employment with an employer.
The Connecticut law permits aggrieved service workers to file a complaint with the state Department of Labor, which may assess a civil penalty of up to $100 for each violation. A broad anti-retaliation provision also provides for civil penalties of up to $500 for retaliatory actions against any employee who takes sick leave pursuant to either the new law or an employer's paid sick leave policy. In addition, employees may be awarded other appropriate relief, including payment for used paid sick leave if such payment had been withheld, reinstatement, and back wages.
Connecticut's new law may trigger the adoption of similar laws in other states across the country. Several cities, including Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have recently adopted laws requiring paid sick leave for certain private-sector employees. However, Philadelphia's Mayor recently vetoed a bill which would have mandated paid sick leave for many companies in Philadelphia.