Connecticut has become the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick leave exclusively for service workers such as waiters, cashiers, and hairstylists.
The bill passed through the Senate and House by close votes (18 to 17 and 76 to 65.) Governor Malloy signed the bill into law yesterday, June 8, 2011.
Effective January 1, 2012, the new law applies to Connecticut service companies with 50 or more workers in the state during any one quarter of the previous year. The law requires covered employers to provide service workers one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. The term “service worker” is defined as an hourly, nonexempt employee as set forth by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system.
Eligible employees may use the sick leave for their own illness, injury or health condition, for the care or treatment of a spouse or child, or to address personal needs resulting from family violence or sexual assault. Up to 40 hours of unused accrued paid sick leave may be carried over from year to year. However, the employee can use only 40 hours of paid sick leave in any one year.
Exempt from the law are certain manufacturers, specified nationally chartered tax-exempt organizations, and employees that receive at lest 5 days of paid leave per year in another form (e.g., PTO, vacation, etc.), provided that the employees can use those days for illness or other reasons covered under the new law.
Finally, the law includes an anti-retaliation provision that prohibits covered employers from retaliating (defined broadly) against an employee for requesting paid sick leave, using paid sick leave, or for submitting a complaint to the Labor Commissioner over a violation of the paid sick leave law.