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Connecticut Greatly Expands Paid Sick Leave Law
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

On May 21, 2024, Governor Ned Lamont signed into law a bill that creates sweeping changes to Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave Law, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57r, et seq. (the “Amendments”). The Amendments will greatly expand the number of employers that are required to provide paid sick leave to their employees and the reasons for which employees will be permitted to use statutory sick leave. The Amendments will be effective as of January 1, 2025.

In 2011, Connecticut became the first state to enact a paid sick leave law. The original law applied only to employers with 50 or more Connecticut employees, and then only to those workers classified as “service workers.” In a stepped approach, the Amendments will lower the threshold for being a covered employer each year and expand coverage to include most employees in the Nutmeg State. By 2027, all Connecticut employees will be eligible for paid sick leave, with limited exceptions.

The Amendments lower the threshold number of employees required to trigger coverage under the Paid Sick Leave Law incrementally over the next three years:

  • As of January 1, 2025, the law will apply to all employers that employ 25 or more individuals in the state.
  • As of January 1, 2026, the law will apply to all employers that employ 11 or more individuals in the state.
  • As of January 1, 2027, the law will apply to all employers that employ at least one person in the state.

The only employers that will be excluded from providing paid sick leave are employers of (i) individuals who are members “of a construction-related tradesperson employee organization that is a party to a multiemployer health plan;” and (ii) seasonal employees. “Seasonal employees” are defined as employees who work 120 days or less in any year. Further, while the majority of manufacturing and nonprofit employers were previously exempt from providing statutory paid sick leave, they will now need to do so if the number of their Connecticut employees meets the threshold.

The Amendments also modify the formula for calculating employees’ sick leave entitlement. Under the current law, eligible employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. With the Amendments, employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The maximum accrual of 40 hours per year will remain unchanged. Similarly, the rules governing carryover remain unchanged. Eligible employees will still be able to carry over up to 40 hours of unused and accrued paid sick leave to the following year, even though they cannot use more than 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year.

In addition, the Amendments expand the reasons employees can use paid sick leave to include:

  • closure by order of a public health official, due to a public health emergency, of the employer’s place of business, a family member’s school, or a family member’s place of care due, and
  • a determination by an employer of the employee, an employer of an employee’s family member, a health authority with jurisdiction, or a health care provider that an employee or the employee’s family member poses a risk to the health of others due to the employee’s or family member’s exposure of a communicable illness.

In another recent change, as of October 1, 2023, the Paid Sick Leave Law also allows employees to use their leave for a “mental health wellness day,” which is defined as a day during which the employee “attends to [their] emotional and psychological well-being in lieu of attending a regularly scheduled shift.”

The Amendments create a new recordkeeping obligation for employers. Specifically, for three years, employers must maintain records showing (i) the number of hours of paid sick time accrued or provided to each employee, and (ii) the number of hours of paid sick time used by each employee during the calendar year. This information must be included on each employee's wage records/pay stubs. The Amendments empower the Connecticut Labor Commissioner to assess a civil penalty against employers of $100 per violation.

The Amendments also require the Connecticut Department of Labor to create a model poster and notice in English and Spanish informing employees of their rights under the Paid Sick Leave Law that covered employers will need to display and distribute. The written notice must be distributed to all Connecticut employees no later than January 1, 2025, or at the time of the employee’s hire, whichever is later.

What Connecticut Employers Should Do Now

To comply with the Amendments, Connecticut employers should determine whether they are now, or will be, covered by the Paid Sick Leave Law as of January 1, 2025. If so, by the New Year, they should:

  • review and, if necessary, update their sick leave policy, making sure that it covers the expanded reasons for using paid sick leave;
  • establish the required recordkeeping procedures;
  • track the number of paid sick leave hours accrued (or provided) and used by each employee annually, and provide the information on each covered employee’s pay stub; and
  • once issued, distribute the Connecticut Department of Labor’s updated Paid Sick Leave notice and display the poster.

Employers with fewer than 25 Connecticut employees should monitor their Connecticut employee population census and ensure that they are compliant with the Paid Sick Leave Law once their number of Connecticut employees reaches a covered threshold.

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