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Connecticut Paid Sick Leave Law Gets Major Overhaul: Who's Covered, What Qualifies, and More
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

On May 21, 2024, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed legislation expanding Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave law beginning January 1, 2025. The new legislation expands the scope of employers covered by the law, increases the number of employees eligible for leave, and broadens the qualifying reasons for paid sick leave, among other substantive changes.

Expansion of Employers Covered By the Paid Sick Leave Law

Currently, the Paid Sick Leave law requires employers with 50 or more employees in Connecticut to provide paid sick leave. The new law expands the employers covered by the law such that, by January 2027, private employers with at least one employee in Connecticut will be required to provide paid sick leave to their employees as follows:

  • Beginning January 1, 2025, employers that employ 25 or more employees in Connecticut will be subject to the law;
  • Beginning January 1, 2026, employers that employ 11 or more employees in Connecticut will be subject to the law; and
  • Beginning January 1, 2027, employers with at least one employee in Connecticut will be subject to the law.

Expansion of Employee Eligibility Under the Paid Sick Leave Law

Currently, only employees who meet the definition of “service workers” under the law by working in certain positions or industries are eligible for paid sick leave, provided they are paid hourly or are non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new law eliminates the term “service workers” and broadly provides that all employees will be eligible for paid sick leave regardless of their job title or the industry in which they work, except seasonal employees who work 120 days or less in any year and construction workers who are members of certain unions.

Additionally, while the law currently provides leave only for employees and their children and spouses, the new law expands or offers new definitions of “child,” “parent,” “sibling,” and “family member.” The term “child” has been expanded to include biological, adopted, foster child, legal wards and “an individual to whom the employee stood in loco parentis when the individual was a child.” Similarly, the term “parent” now includes biological, foster, or adoptive parents, stepparents, parents-in-law, legal guardians or an employee or spouse, and individuals standing in loco parentis to the employee. The term “sibling” means brother or sister of an employee related by blood, marriage, adoption, or foster care placement. The term “spouse” is expanded to include anyone legally married or a domestic partner. The term “family members” is expanded to include “a spouse, sibling, child, grandparent, grandchild, or parent of an employee or an individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be equivalent to those family relationships.”

Expansion of Qualifying Reasons for Taking Paid Sick Leave

In what is likely the legislature’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the state’s workforce, the new law provides that paid sick leave may also be taken in the following situations:

  • Due to the closure of an employee’s workplace or a family member’s school or place of care due to a public health emergency; and
  • Due to the exposure of employees and their family members to a communicable illness, whether they actually contract such an illness.

The expansion of the qualifying reasons for taking paid sick leave is in addition to those already covered under the law:

  • For an employee’s illness, injury, or health condition, or the employee’s child or spouse’s illness, injury, or health condition;
  • For an employee’s medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for a physical or mental illness, injury, or health condition, or an employee’s child or spouse’s physical or mental illness, injury or health condition;
  • For preventative medical care for an employee’s physical or mental health condition or an employee’s child or spouse’s physical or mental health condition;
  • For an employee’s mental wellness; and
  • For an employee who is a victim of family violence or sexual assault, or where the employee is a parent or guardian of a child who is a victim of family violence, paid sick leave is available for medical or psychological care, counseling, physical or psychological injuries, seeking assistance from a victim services organization, or for participating in civil or criminal proceedings.

While the previous permissible uses of paid sick leave applied only to employees and their child and spouse, the new law applies the significantly broadened definitions of “child,” “parent,” “sibling,” and “family member” to the qualifying reasons for taking paid sick leave.

Amended Notice and Documentation Requirements

The new law also prohibits employers from requiring employees to provide documentation that their leave is for reasons permitted under the statute. Many employers routinely require employees to submit documentation supporting the reason for their leave, which may violate the law’s new prohibition. 

Employers are also now required to retain documentation of hours worked by employees who take paid sick leave and permit the Labor Commissioner to access such records upon request. Employers that maintain inadequate records or fail to provide the Labor Commissioner with reasonable access to such records will be subject to a $100 fine. Employers must retain these records for three years.

The new law is a departure from the current law, which allows employers to require seven days’ notice for foreseeable absences and notice as soon as possible for unforeseeable absences.

Employers also are required to provide written notice to employees of their right to paid sick leave no later than January 1, 2025, or at the time of hire, whichever is later, in addition to displaying posters providing information about paid sick leave as was previously mandated. Under the new law, employers that employ remote workers must notify such employees electronically of their right to paid sick leave and must post the required posters on a universally accessible database, such as a company-wide intranet.

Changes to the New Hire Eligibility Waiting Period

Under the new law, employees will be eligible to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on the 120th calendar day following their hire. Previously, employees could use accrued paid sick leave only after working 680 hours, unless the employer agreed to permit an employee to use paid sick leave sooner.

Acceleration of Accrual of Leave

The new law also provides that employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours worked beginning January 1, 2025. This represents an acceleration of the law’s current accrual schedule that provides for one hour of paid sick leave per 40 hours worked.

The new law also states that, in lieu of any carry-over of unused, accrued paid sick leave from the current year to the following year, an employer may provide an employee with an amount of paid sick leave that meets or exceeds the requirements of the law and is available for the employee’s immediate use at the beginning of the calendar year. The new law is consistent with the requirements of the existing law by allowing employers to provide a greater amount or faster accrual of paid sick leave than what is required under the law.

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Connecticut’s new Paid Sick Leave law significantly expands the employers, employees, and qualifying reasons for paid sick leave. Employers should consult with legal counsel about the new law. They might consider preparing for the law’s expansion in coverage over the next several years, including by implementing, reviewing, and modifying applicable policies, implementing measures to meet the law’s recordkeeping and posting requirements, and monitoring employee accruals and usage of leave under the law.

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