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2024 Legislative Session Begins: CT Sick Day Law Expansion, Other Proposals Approved for Drafting; Non-Competes and Restaurant Scheduling in the Crosshairs

The first week of Connecticut’s 2024 legislative session suggests employers can expect many of 2023's failed workplace proposals to be reintroduced this session. Four of those proposals have already been approved for drafting by the Labor and Public Employees Committee, which met for the first time this session on February 8th. They include proposals to greatly expand Connecticut’s Sick Day Law, eliminate the lower minimum wage for tip-credit employees, and allow striking workers to collect unemployment.


Approved by Committee for Drafting


The following bills were approved by the Labor and Public Employees Committee to be drafted into bills. Once drafted, the Committee will conduct hearings on the proposals before they’re ultimately brought up for vote:


Expansion of Connecticut’s Sick Day Law


Expanding Connecticut’s Sick Day Law to cover all Connecticut employers has been described by Democratic lawmakers as a “top priority” this session. Currently, the law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide service workers with one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year. Manufacturers and certain non-profits are exempt from the law.


Under the bill expected to be introduced this session, the law would require employers with 1 or more employees to provide sick leave to all employees, not just service workers. The exemption for manufacturers and certain nonprofits would also be eliminated.


Elimination of Lower Minimum Wage for Tip Credit Employees


The Labor and Public Employees committee also voted in favor of drafting a bill that would eliminate the lower minimum wage for hourly employees who earn tips, such as bartenders and waiters.

Under current law, the tip credit allows employers to pay hotel and restaurant staff $6.38 per hour and bartenders $8.23 per hour, as long as their tips make up the rest of Connecticut’s minimum wage requirement (currently $15.69 per hour). Removing the tip credit would require employers to pay these employees at least the full minimum wage prior to tips.


Unemployment Compensation for Striking Employees


Also approved for drafting is a proposal that would allow striking employees to collect unemployment compensation after two weeks on strike. This is a reintroduction of the 2023 bill that failed to pass.


Expansion of Connecticut FMLA to Non-Certified School Employees

 

Finally, the Labor and Public Employees committee reached unanimous, bipartisan consensus to draft a bill that would expand Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave to include school employees that are not required to have a teaching certificate. Non-certified employees, such as janitors, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers are currently exempt from Connecticut Paid FMLA.

 

Other Items Under Consideration for Approval to Draft as Bills

 

The Labor and Public Employees Commission met again yesterday (2/13/2024) to debate drafting a number of other concepts into bills. Presumably due to the inclement weather, the Committee concluded their session by leaving voting open, meaning no definitive decision was reached on proceeding with the following bills:

 

Restrictions on Non-Competes

 

The Committee discussed redrafting a 2023 failed bill that would have invalidated most non-competes for most employees except in limited circumstances.

 

Restrictions on non-compete agreements have been a focus at both the federal and state level in recent years. The federal Fair Trade Commission introduced a proposed rule in 2023 that would invalidate most non-compete agreements. The proposed rule is still pending, with finalization of the rule delayed by the need to review the more than 27,000 comments the FTC received in response to the proposed rule.

 

Connecticut lawmakers were able to pass a 2023 non-compete law that extended existing restrictions on non-competes for doctors to also include APRNs and Physicians Assistants. The more restrictive bill, which would have invalidated most non-competes, however, failed to pass.


It remains to be seen whether the Committee will move forward with a vote to draft at a future meeting.


Predictable Scheduling


Another 2023 bill held open for a vote to redraft yesterday concerns Predictable Scheduling.

The 2023 bill would have required employers in specified sectors (i.e., retail, food service, hospitality, or long-term health care services establishments) with at least 500 employees to pay employees when the employer, without meeting certain notice requirements, (1) cancels or reduces scheduled hours or (2) adds work hours or changes the date, time, or location of a work shift without reducing hours.


Under the bill, employers would also have been required to (1) try to schedule existing employees for their desired number of weekly hours before hiring a new employee and (2) pay an existing employee for the hours a newly hired employee works during the existing employee’s written availability.

Editor’s Note: The legislative session began on February 7, 2024, and will adjourn on May 8, 2024. We’ll keep our subscribers apprised of developments with proposed legislation this session through client advisories. We will also conduct a Legislative Update webinar in September outlining in detail the legislation that passes.


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