New Connecticut Law Mandates Paid Sick Leave for Employees

Connecticut First State to Pass Paid Sick Leave Bill; NY Employers Wary of Similar Legislation as More Cities and States Debate Similar Measures

On June 4, 2011, the Connecticut state legislature passed a law mandating paid sick leave for certain employees of private companies operating within the state. Although Washington, DC and other cities, including San Francisco and Milwaukee, have similar legislation, Connecticut could be a trendsetter in the mandatory paid sick leave arena, as other state legislatures consider passing similar measures.

The Connecticut law, which was vigorously opposed, passed in the State Senate by only one vote, is limited in scope to service-sector employees, exempting all of the state’s manufacturing workers from coverage. Additionally, the state’s smallest businesses will not be affected, as the bill only applies to employers with at least fifty employees. Employees of non-profits, day laborers, temporary workers and independent contractors will also not be covered.

However, all other covered private employers in Connecticut will now have to provide their service employees with one hour of paid sick time for every forty hours worked, up to a maximum of five sick days per year. While the measure appears to be generally reasonable in scope, it comes at a fragile time in our nation’s economic recovery when states, including Connecticut, should be focusing on trying to create jobs and minimize economic burdens on businesses.

Employers in New York City will know that the City Council has frequently debated passing its own mandatory paid sick leave legislation for private employers over the past few years. One of those bills, which Council Speaker Christine Quinn eventually declined to bring up for a vote, was much more burdensome than Connecticut’s law, applying to all private employers, regardless of size and mandating up to nine paid sick days per year for larger businesses. Employers throughout the five boroughs, and all of New York State, will continue to watch their legislators’ agendas with a wary eye as this type of legislation continues to gain steam throughout the country.

At least for now, private employers in New York are not required to provide their employees with any paid sick leave benefits. However, those employers who choose to offer such benefits to their employees must abide uniformly by whatever sick leave policies they choose to put in place. Stephen D. Hans & Associates highly recommend that any employer wishing to offer paid sick leave benefits adopt a carefully crafted, formal written policy outlining how such sick leave will accrue and be used by its employees. Such policies are an integral part of any employee handbook and are necessary for effective human resources management.

For assistance creating or revising a paid sick leave policy, or addressing issues regarding any employee leave issues, call us at (718) 275-6700 or email us to arrange a consultation and find out how our attorneys can help you.

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