The 2019 Connecticut legislative session ended June 5th at midnight. Among other noted bills, three have important implications to employers, especially small employers:
- Minimum Wage
- Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Time’s Up Act – Sexual Harassment
The final bill on minimum wage, already signed by Governor Lamont increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a five-year period:
- $11 – October 1, 2019
- $12 – September 1, 2020
- $13 – August 1, 2021
- $14 – July 1, 2022
- $15 – October 15, 2023
Beyond the October 15, 2023 increase, employers must note that future increases will be indexed in comparison to the federal Employment Cost Index, so the potential for further increases are possible beyond 2023.
Additional changes to training wages, and surprisingly no change to the current tip credit for hotel and restaurant staff and bartenders are also included.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Connecticut becomes another state adding a Paid Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) to private sector employers, different than the current Connecticut and Federal FMLAs.
What are the changes and differences?
Current Federal FMLA – employers with 50 employees are required to provide FMLA to employees who have a minimum of 12 months and 1250 hours of work prior to the beginning of the leave. Eligible employees receive 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave in a 12-month period.
Current CT FMLA – employers with 75 employees are required to provide FMLA to employees who have a minimum 12 months and 1000 hours of work prior to the beginning of the leave. Eligible employees receive 16 weeks of unpaid job protected leave in a 24-month period.
New CT FMLA – private sector employers with at least one employee are required to provide FMLA to employees who have a minimum of three months of work – there is no minimum required hours. Eligible employees will receive 12 weeks of paid job protected leave in a 12-month period (maximum $900 weekly), and an additional two weeks of paid leave for a serious health condition that results in incapacitation during pregnancy.
- Many eligible employers today require their employees to use their paid time off/vacation during an FMLA leave – the new law will allow employees to maintain a minimum of two weeks of paid time off/vacation.
- Current FMLA conditions require employees utilizing FMLA for their own serious health condition or a serious health condition of a child, spouse or parent. The new law allows others such as an employee’s siblings, in-laws, grandchildren and grandparents, and this is a huge addition, “an individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be equivalent of those family relationships”
What does that mean?
- Employers can provide a separate plan as long as the benefits are at a similar level.
- Finally, how will this be paid – through employee payroll deductions equivalent to 0.5% – yes, all employees, even those that may never use FMLA.
Clearly employers will need to look at the regulations that the CT DOL will provide by the beginning of this new law – January 1, 2022.
Small Private Employers
Small employers (less than 50 employees) haven’t had to worry about FMLA. Now, all private employers with at least one employee must prepare to implement this into their policies and practices.
Time’s Up Act – Sexual Harassment Requirements
The third act to cover is the Time’s Up Act, new sexual harassment requirements.
Connecticut’s current law requires employers with 50 employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to its supervisors; the new law will require training for all supervisors regardless of the number of employees. Additionally, this act requires employers with at least three employees to provide training to all employees.
This act requires the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) to develop free on-line, or other interactive method training that employers can use. Training must be done by October 1, 2020 for employees who haven’t conducted training after September 30, 2018.
Employers with at least three employees, will need to send a poster to all employees via e-mail and/or post on its web site.
Employers will need to be aware of other requirements such as the timeframe extension for filing harassment claims, corrective action requirements, remedies by the CHRO, punitive damages, etc. More to come on these and other regs.
Small Private Employers
Small employers (less than 50 employees) haven’t had to worry about harassment prevention training – they now do. Now all private employers with at least one employee must prepare to implement supervisor training, and employers with three employees must implement training to all employees.
Next Steps for Employers
Employers, especially small employers need to become aware of these new laws and prepare to implement these regulations by the various effective dates. KardasLarson remains ready to assist.