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Connecticut Becomes First State in the U.S. To Enact Paid Sick Leave!

August 2011

By: Nancy E. Joerg, Esq.

On July 1, 2011, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation that will require employers in Connecticut to provide certain specified service workers with paid sick leave. This new law will apply to employers with 50 or more employees. Connecticut thus becomes the very first state in the U.S. to enact such a legislative measure.

This mandated paid sick leave will accrue at the rate of one hour per 40 hours worked. It applies to service workers who are paid by the hour (and are not exempt from the minimum wage and overtime legal requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act).

Under this unique new law, service workers will be able to begin accruing paid sick leave on January 1, 2012. Eligible employees must have worked for the employer for at least 680 hours and an average of at least 10 hours per week in the most recent calendar quarter.

This new law only applies to those who work in an occupation covered by one of the 68 federal standard occupation classification titles named in the law. Some types of service workers covered by this new law are: social workers, librarians, pharmacists, nurse midwives, home health aides, nursing aides, dental assistants, security guards, bartenders, hairdressers, couriers and messengers, butchers and ambulance drivers.

Paid sick leave can be used for reasons related to family violence or sexual assault as well as for the worker's illness, injury or related treatment or care for the worker's child or spouse. Workers who feel they are not being treated properly per the law may file a complaint with the Connecticut State Labor Commissioner.

There is also an interesting provision in which an employer may take disciplinary action against a service worker covered under the law who uses paid sick leave for purposes other than those described in the law.

As a result, Connecticut employers now have another posting requirement whereby each employer subject to the law must notify the employee at the time of hiring of the employee's protections and legal rights to paid sick leave.

There is, of course, speculation that other states will follow in the footsteps of Connecticut.

Questions? Please contact WS Shareholder and Senior Attorney Nancy E. Joerg at 630-377-1554 or najoerg@wesselssherman.com.