Workplace Requirements: The Paid Sick Leave Act Effective January 1, 2012 - Are your business clients ready?

On January 1, 2012, Connecticut will be become the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick leave to "service workers." With this date rapidly approaching, your business clients may need to modify their employment policies to ensure compliance with the new law.

On July 5, 2011, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law Public Act No. 11-52. The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees working in the State of Connecticut in any one quarter in the previous year.[1]The law has two key mandates: (1) that an employer provide "service workers" with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave, annually; and (2) a prohibition from covered employers retaliating or discriminating against employees who request or use the paid sick leave in accordance with the law. Moreover, the law provides that employers provide notice at the time of hire to eligible employees of the entitlement to such paid sick leave, that retaliation is prohibited, and that an employee has a right to file a complaint with the Labor Commission for an alleged violation.

What is a service worker? A service worker is defined as an employee paid on an hourly basis, not exempt from the minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Public Act 11-52, Section 1, Subsection 7 defines a service worker as "an employee primarily engaged in an occupation with one of the following broad or detailed occupation code numbers and titles, as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system . . ." and lists 68 occupations: food service managers; medical and health service managers; social workers; social and human services assistants; community health workers; community and social service specialists; librarians; pharmacists; physician assistants; therapists; registered nurses; nurse anesthetists; nurse midwives; nurse practitioners; dental hygienists; emergency medical technicians and paramedics; health practitioner support technologists and technicians; licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses; home health aides; nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants; psychiatric aides; dental assistants; medical assistants; security guards; crossing guards; supervisors of food preparation and serving workers; cooks; food preparation workers; bartenders; fast food and counter workers; waiters and waitresses; food services, non-restaurant; dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers; dishwashers; hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shops; miscellaneous food preparation and serving related workers; janitors and cleaners; building cleaning workers; ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers; barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists; baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges; childcare workers; personal care aides; first-line supervisors of sales workers; cashiers; counter and rental clerks; retail salespersons; tellers; hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks; reception and information clerks; couriers and messengers; secretaries and administrative assistants; computer operators; data entry and information processing workers; desktop publishers; insurance claims and policy processing clerks; mail clerks and machine operators; office clerks; office machine operators; proofreaders and copy markers; statistical assistants; miscellaneous office and administrative support workers; bakers; butchers and other meat, poultry, and fish processing workers; miscellaneous food processing workers; ambulance drivers and attendants; bus drivers; and taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

A service worker accrues one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Eligible employees will not be entitled to use their accrued paid sick leave until they complete 680 hours of employment beginning January 1, 2012 or from the date of hire, whichever is later. An eligible employee may use the paid sick leave under the law for: the illness, injury, or health condition of the employee, his or her spouse or child; the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of the service worker, his or her spouse or child; preventative medical care of a service worker, his or her spouse or child; and/or if the service worker is a victim of a family violence or sexual assault, for medical care, to obtain victim services, to relocate, and/or to participate in legal proceedings related to family violence or sexual assault.

Businesses employing more than 50 employees in the State of Connecticut would be prudent to conduct a proactive review of their existing paid time off policies prior to January 12, 2012.



[1] Businesses classified in the North American Industrial Classification System, §§ 31, 32, or 33 (manufacturers) and nationally chartered organizations that provide recreation, childcare, or education services are exempt.