Connecticut Becomes First State to Pass Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law

July 19, 2011

On July 1‚ 2011‚ Connecticut became the first state to mandate paid sick leave for certain employees. The Act (PA 11-52), which takes effect on Jan. 1‚ 2012‚ requires employers with 50 or more employees in Connecticut to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to “service worker” employees. Currently, only three cities — San Francisco‚ CA‚ Washington‚ D.C.‚ and Milwaukee‚ WI — require paid sick leave for certain employees. Similar laws are being considered in cities and states across the country.

Excepting certain manufacturing companies and nationally chartered 501(c)(3) organizations, Connecticut's new law applies to service workers in a number of broad occupation codes as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system. Such employees include healthcare workers; receptionists; administrative assistants; and certain other office employees, tellers, cashiers and food service employees‚ if they are paid an hourly wage and are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements. Temporary workers and day laborers are not covered by the Act.

Beginning on Jan. 1‚ 2012‚ (or the date a service worker is hired, if after Jan. 1‚ 2012)‚ paid sick leave shall accrue in one-hour increments at a rate of one hour of paid sick leave for each 40 hours worked up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year. A service worker may use accrued paid sick leave upon the completion of 680 hours of employment from Jan. 1‚ 2012‚ (or the employee’s date of hire, if later)‚ provided that the employee worked an average of 10 or more hours per week during the most recent quarter. Service workers may carry over up to 40 hours of unused accrued sick leave but may not use more than 40 hours of paid sick leave during any calendar year.

Under the Act‚ a qualified service worker can use paid sick leave for his own‚ or his child’s or spouse's‚ illness‚ injury or health condition; medical diagnosis; care or treatment of mental or physical illness; injury or health condition; or preventative medical care. If a service worker is the victim of family violence or sexual assault‚ paid sick leave may be used for medical care or psychological or other counseling‚ to obtain services from a victim services organization‚ to relocate‚ or to participate in related civil or criminal proceedings. Sick leave shall be paid at a rate equal to the greater of the service worker's normal hourly wage or the Connecticut minimum wage rate then in effect.

Each employer subject to the Act must provide notice‚ at the time of hiring, to each service worker: (1) of the entitlement to sick leave for service workers‚ the amount of sick leave provided and the terms under which sick leave may be used; (2) that retaliation against the service worker for requesting or using eligible paid sick leave is prohibited; and (3) that service workers have to right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any violation of the Act. Employers may comply by displaying a poster containing this information‚ written in English and Spanish, in a conspicuous place that is accessible to its service workers. Employers who violate the Act will be fined by the Labor Commissioner at a rate of $100 to $500 for each violation depending on the nature of the violation. The Labor Commissioner also may award aggrieved employees all other appropriate relief such as payment for used sick leave and reinstatement, back pay and reestablishment of other benefits for employees subjected to adverse employment action for exercising rights under the Act.

Employers with questions about Connecticut's new paid sick leave law should also consult with counsel for guidance.

For more information on this alert, please contact any of the lawyers listed below:

John Adkins,, 617.951.8551
Jenny Cooper,, 617.951.8473
Louis Rodriques, Co-chair, Labor and Employment Group,, 617.951.8340

Los Angeles/Orange County 
Jacqueline Cookerly Aguilera,, 213.229.8439
Debra Fischer,, 213.680.6418

San Francisco
James Severson,, 415.393.2242

New York
Douglas Schwarz,, 212.705.7437

Mie Fujimoto,, 81.3.6721.3138

This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.