Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: February 16th Public Hearing (Wage/Hour and Leave)

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee will conduct a public hearing on the following proposed bills, many of which concern “wage and hour” and leave issues (and some of which were considered last year):

S.B. No. 13 AN ACT CONCERNING THE MINIMUM FAIR WAGE.  This proposed bill would increase the minimum wage from the current $10.10/hour  to $11.00/hour on January 1, 2018, $12.00/hour on January 1, 2019, $13.00/hour on January 1, 2020, $14.00/hour on January 1, 2021, and $15.00/hour on January 1, 2022.  Thereafter, the minimum wage would be subject to annual indexing/adjustment for inflation.

H.B. No. 6208 AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE. This proposed bill is almost identical to S.B. Bill No. 13, above, and would similarly increase the minimum wage to $15.00/hour over the next five years.

Proposed H.B. No. 5149 AN ACT CONCERNING CERTAIN MINIMUM FAIR WAGE PROVISIONS. Conversely, this proposed bill would revise the “learners, beginners and persons under 18” exception to the minimum wage so as to instead apply the exception to persons under 19 years of age and to all such covered persons who work 1,000 or fewer hours per year (as opposed to the first 200 hours of such persons’ employment).

Proposed H.B. No. 5591 AN ACT CONCERNING PAY EQUITY IN THE WORKFORCE. This proposed bill would require all employers (public and private sector) to provide equal pay to employees in the same workplace who perform “comparable” duties.  There are no specifics at this point in time in this broadly stated proposal.

Proposed S.B. No. 747 AN ACT PROHIBITING “ON-CALL” SHIFT SCHEDULING.  This proposed bill would a) prohibit employers from requiring an employee to call the employer prior to a scheduled shift to confirm that the employee is needed for the shift, and b) require employers to give an employee at least 24 hours prior notice if the employee is not needed to work a scheduled shift.

Proposed H.B. No. 6901 AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOUPMENT OF STATE COSTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO LOW WAGE EMPLOYERS.  This proposed bill would require employers with over 500 employees in the state, and franchisors who, combined with their franchisees, collectively employ at least 500 employees in the state, to pay a quarterly fee to the Department of Labor based in part on the number of hours worked by employees who were paid on average less than $15.00/hour during the quarter.

Proposed H.B. No. 6914 AN ACT CONCERNING A MINIMUM WORK WEEK FOR PERSONS PERFORMING JANITORIAL OR BUILDING MAINTENANCE SERVICES. This proposed bill would mandate a minimum workweek of 30 hours for individuals who perform janitorial or building maintenance services.  It is unclear whether the proposed bill (when fleshed out) will limit this requirement to certain types of employers and facilities.

Proposed S.B. No. 1 AN ACT CREATING A PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE SYSTEM IN THE STATE.   This currently skeletal proposed bill would provide paid family and medical leave benefits to eligible employees.  While this bill does not contain any specific language at this point in time, please keep in mind that last year’s attempt at a paid sick leave bill included other significant changes to Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act.   We will see what 2017’s version has in store for employers.

Proposed H.B. No. 6212 AN ACT CREATING A PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE SYSTEM IN THE STATE. This proposed bill is identical to S.B. No. 1, above

Proposed H.B. No. 6668 AN ACT CONCERNING PREGNANT WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE.   This skeletal proposed bill  would amend Connecticut laws to “protect women from discrimination in the workplace”.  While Connecticut law (obviously) already prohibits discrimination against pregnant employees, it is unclear if the authors of this bill have in mind an expansion of the accommodations (and leave requirements) for pregnant employees.

Proposed H.B. No. 6215 AN ACT REQUIRING EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE PAID SICK LEAVE TO SCHOOL TUTORS. This Act would add school tutors to the list of “service workers” who are eligible for paid sick leave under Connecticut law.

Proposed H.B. No. 6202 AN ACT CONCERNING UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION. This proposed bill would increase the wage threshold for a person’s eligibility for unemployment benefits from $600 per “base period” to $2,500 per “base period”.

Proposed H.B. No. 6219 AN ACT CONCERNING COMMUNITY REENTRY BY PERSONS WHO WERE INCARCERATED. This proposed bill would provide persons recently released from incarceration with “enhanced employment opportunities”, and also would provide  tax incentives to employers who provide such employment opportunities.

Proposed H.B. No. 5590 AN ACT CREATING A TASK FORCE TO IMPROVE THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM IN THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT. As the title suggests, this proposed bill would establish a task force to study the effectiveness, impact, and cohesiveness of workforce development programs and initiatives in the state.

The hearing on the above proposed bills will take place at 2:00 P.M. in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building.  Several of these bills were supposed to be the subject of a public hearing on February 9th that was cancelled due to inclement weather.

To repeat my standard warning:  The fact that a public hearing has been scheduled on these bills is not necessarily an indication that the Committee will pass them, but it is at least an indication that they are under serious consideration.  When these bills have been fully drafted, and if they advance toward a vote by the Committee, we will provide more detail as to their contents.