A bill placing significant restrictions on non-compete agreements in Connecticut, as well as bills requiring the public posting of pay rates, limiting the length of the work week, and setting quotas for warehouse workers are among those being considered by the General Assembly’s Labor Committee as we hit the halfway mark of this legislative session. The 2023 session ends on June 7, 2023.
The non-compete bill reflects a growing war against non-compete agreements being waged at both the federal level and in several states. If passed, the non-compete restrictions would take effect on July 1, 2023.
Here is a rundown of the bills to watch:
Bills Clearing Labor and Public Employees Committee
Substitute HB-6594. Noncompete Agreements- If passed, the bill would hold non-compete agreements unenforceable against an employee or independent contractor unless the following conditions were met:
1. The agreement is for less than a year following separation of employment.
2. The non-compete is necessary to protect a legitimate business interest that could not be protected by less restrictive means.
3. It is reasonable in duration, geographic scope, type of work and type of employer of the covenant not to compete.
4. The worker is an exempt employee.
5. A written copy of the covenant not to compete is provided to the employee no less than ten (10) business days prior to the deadline to accept the noncompete or the date the noncompete is signed, whichever is earlier.
6. The noncompete contains a complete statement of the workers' rights under the noncompete.
7. The noncompete is signed separately from any other agreement between the worker and the employer.
8. The noncompete agreement is supported by sufficient consideration and not solely continuation of the employment relationship.
9. The employment relationship was not terminated by the worker for good cause.
10.The noncompete does not require the employee to submit to adjudication in a forum out of state.
11.The noncompete doesn’t unreasonably interfere with the public interest.
12.The employee’s compensation must be at least three times the minimum wage (independent contractors must earn at least five times the minimum fair wage.)
In addition, the noncompete will be presumed unenforceable if the noncompete applies to (1) geographic areas in which the worker neither provided services nor had a material presence or influence in during the last two years of employment, or (2) types of work the worker did not perform in the last two years of employment.
The bill also prohibits courts from “blue penciling” an agreement if its terms are found to violate any of the requirements in the bill, meaning the entire noncompete agreement would be rendered unenforceable, rather than just the provisions found to violate the bill.
S.B. No. 913: An Act Expanding Workers' Compensation Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries for All Employees. This bill would expand workers' compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder for witnessing certain traumatic events (e.g., certain deaths or maimings) to include all employees as of January 1, 2024; this benefit is currently limited to certain first responders.
H.B. No. 6721: An Act Concerning Workers' Compensation And Portal-To-Portal Coverage For Telecommunicators. This bill would expand portal to portal coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act (currently available for police officers and firefighters) so as to cover telecommunicators.
S.B. No.938: An Act Concerning Unemployment Benefits for Striking Workers. This bill would allow striking employees to collect unemployment benefits after a period of two consecutive weeks striking.
Bills Pending in Committee
Several other bills remain pending before the Connecticut Labor and Public Employees Committee. The deadline for the Labor and Public Employees Committee to approve bills and advance them out of committee is March 21, 2023. Among the bills are:
H.B. 6273: An Act Concerning Disclosure of Salary Ranges on Public and Internal Job Postings. This bill would require employers to disclose salary ranges on public and internal job postings.
H.B. 489: An Act Limiting the Days and Employers Can Mandate an Employee to Work. This bill would prohibit an employer from mandating an employee to work more than six consecutive days without a day off during such six-day period.
S.B. 152: Protection of Warehouse Workers. This bill would cover employees at “warehouse distribution centers” and would require employers to provide each employee a written description of each performance quota the employee is subject to (and potential adverse employment actions an employee may suffer for a failure to meet the quota). An employer may not take adverse action against an employee for a quota that has not been disclosed. An employee shall not be required to meet any quota that prevents compliance with the duty-free lunch/meal periods laws, or the Occupational Safety and Health Act, along with “the use of bathroom facilities, including the reasonable time to travel to and from bathroom facilities.”
S.B. 6462: An Act Concerning the Recoupment of State Cost Attributable to Low-Wage Employers. This bill would require employers with over five hundred employees in the state and franchisors who, combined with their franchisees, collectively employ at least five hundred employees in the state, to pay a quarterly fee to the Labor Commissioner based in part on the number of employees of such employer that utilize state resources, including, but not limited to, the HUSKY Health program.
H.B. 6285: An Act Concerning Employers and Employees’ Union Memberships. This bill would make it a discriminatory practice for an employer to ask an employee if they have ever been a member of a union.
H.B. 6275: An Act concerning Use of an Employee's Personal Vehicle for Employment Purposes. This bill would require employers to reimburse employees who drive their personal vehicles more than 10 miles to carry out the duties of their job at the IRS mileage rate.
The bills will need to pass both houses of the Assembly and be signed by the governor before becoming law.