By Martha J. Cardi, Reed Group Chief Compliance Officer
Paid sick leave becomes a reality for many employers in Connecticut on January 1, 2012, as the first paid state sick leave law in the country goes into effect. Employers without employees in Connecticut should watch the developments there with interest – what happens in Connecticut doesn’t necessarily stay in Connecticut.
Employee eligibility, accrual and usage rules, and other features of the law will make it a compliance challenge for covered employers, at least initially. We previously reported on the complex requirements of the law here.
Fortunately, the Connecticut Department of Labor has come to the rescue. A 15-page Guidance published by the DOL explains its take on many areas of the law that are not clear from the statute.
Read on for –
- a summary of some of the law’s provisions clarified by the Connecticut DOL Guidance, and
- links to key resources for employers.
Fortunately, the Connecticut Department of Labor has come to the rescue. A 15-page Guidance published by the DOL explains its take on many areas of the law that are not clear from the statute. Here is a summary of a few of the helpful explanations from the Guidance:
Covered Employees: “Service Worker.” [Sec. 1(7)] The statute is applicable only to “service workers.” Both the law itself and the Guidance contain a full listing of the covered worker categories. But, the Guidance warns that “[i]f a job title is not listed specifically, it does not mean that the job is not included in one of the prescribed classifications. The employer must read the broad and detailed occupations and descriptions provided on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website . . . ”
“680 Hours of Employment” and “Break in Service.” [Secs. 2(b) and 4(c)] Service workers cannot use accrued paid sick leave until they have at least 680 hours of employment with the employer. The Guidance addresses several points:
- The 680 hour requirement is a one-time requirement. Once a service worker meets this requirement, he or she never has to meet it again for the same employer, despite a break in service of any length (1 month or 5 years, it carries over).
- If there is a break in service before the employee has worked for 680 hours, the employee’s hours carry over if he or she is again hired by the same employer. Thus, an employee who works for 350 hours before a break in service would only have to work another 330 hours upon reemployment to be entitled to start using accrued paid sick leave.
- Accrued sick leave hours do not carry over to a new period of employment following a break in service. If the service worker returns to work at that same employer, then the service worker begins to accrue paid sick leave hours anew.
Pay Rate. [Sec. 2(d)] For service workers whose normal hourly wage is lower than minimum wage, such as service workers who earn a tip credit, they should be paid minimum wage for any paid sick leave hours that they use. In addition, overtime and commissions are not to be calculated and included in the determination of a service workers “normal hourly wage.”
Documentation. [Sec. 3(b)] Employers may only require the employee to provide documentation of the reason for absence if the employee uses paid sick leave for 3 or more consecutive work day absences, not calendar days. The absences do no need to be full days, but include any time taken off from work as paid sick leave during a work day. Example: a service worker who is scheduled to work Friday, Monday, and Tuesday, who uses paid sick leave for any portion of those three days in a row, could be required by his/her employer to obtain reasonable documentation from his/her health care provider. Unlike the FMLA, however, there is no provision for an employer to seek clarification of the health care provider’s note or a second opinion if the employer questions the documentation.
STAY TUNED FOR OUR NEXT POST: The Importance of Getting it “Just Right”: Communications with Employees on FMLA Leave