A Healthier 2012 for Connecticut: Paid Sick Days Law Goes Into Effect

Jan 05, 2012

By Andrea Lindemann

The New Year is off to a good start for many workers in Connecticut who now have paid sick days thanks to a new law that went into effect Jan. 1.  The law is a milestone.  While San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have had paid sick days laws on the books for a few years now, Connecticut has the first statewide law in the country requiring that employers offer paid sick days.  The law provides that employers with 50 or more employees in the service sector allow employees to accrue at least one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked.  Between 200,000 to 400,000 service workers, including restaurant workers, cashiers, security guards and hotel workers can now take needed time off to get well or care for a sick family member without losing wages or risking their job.

Many Connecticut companies have been preparing for the law to go into effect with guidance from the Connecticut Department of Labor.   According to Heidi Lane, an attorney with the agency, many employers already provide enough paid time off to satisfy the law's requirements, but they have to make sure workers accrue that time in compliance with the new law.

In San Francisco, where the first paid sick days law in the country passed in 2006, the Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement provided guidance to businesses implementing the law.  This guidance included FAQs, forms, fact sheets, and resources.  While this was a step in the right direction, employers in San Francisco have noted that a city or state should provide additional staffing and resources to the administering agency to help implement a paid sick days law, including technical assistance to help employers start a paid leave policy. 

With more and more business owners supporting paid sick days, their input is critical in helping establish and implement smart policies that work for both employees and employers. To help business owners get involved in the policy process, CLASP manages a one-stop-shop of resources and tools that partner advocates and business owners in the movement to expand paid sick days.

As San Francisco business owner Sam Mogannam said, "Once the confusion cleared and we understood the law, what was required of us, how to manage and implement it, we embraced it. The law makes sense and creates a better, less stressful work environment." 

We expect Connecticut employers will soon be saying the same thing.  

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