On Thursday, March 8, 2018, 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:
1. H.B. No. 5387 AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE. This bill would provide paid family and medical leave benefits to eligible employees and also make other changes to the state’s Family Medical Leave Act [“FMLA”]. Specifically, this bill would create a “Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program” that will offer up to 12 workweeks of family and medical leave compensation to covered employees during any 12 month period. The Program will be funded by employee contributions to the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Trust Fund, to be collected on or before July 1, 2020, and would begin to provide compensation to employees on and after July 1, 2021. This bill also (a) extends the applicability of the state’s FMLA to all private sector employers with at least two employees, (b) reduces the state FMLA’s minimum eligibility requirement for employees from having to work at least 12 months for the current employer and at least 1000 hours during the previous 12 months, to instead merely having to work 6 months for the current employer, and at least 500 hours during the previous 12 months, (c) aligns the maximum amount of leave for the state FMLA with the federal FMLA requirement (i.e., 12 weeks of leave during any 12 month period), (d) adds siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, “or any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family member” to the list of family members for whom an employee can take FMLA “caregiver” leave, and (e) eliminates an employer’s ability to require an employee taking FMLA leave to use his or her employer-provided paid leave.
- S.B. No. 1 AN ACT CONCERNING EARNED FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE. This bill is very similar to House Bill No. 5387, above.
- S.B. No. 15 AN ACT CONCERNING FAIR AND EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK. This bill would prohibit an employer from inquiring about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history before an offer of employment that includes wages has been accepted by the prospective employee unless a prospective employee has voluntarily disclosed such information. This bill contains an exception for employers acting pursuant to any federal or state law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes.
- H.B. No. 5386 AN ACT CONCERNING VARIOUS PAY EQUITY AND FAIRNESS MATTERS. This bill contains the same provisions set forth in SB No. 15, above. This bill also would provide that in equal pay law suits, employers could avoid an award of compensatory and punitive damages where the employer has (1) completed within three years before the date that the employee filed the law suit an equal pay analysis of the employer’s pay practices in good faith that was reasonable in detail and scope in light of the size of the employer; and (2) eliminated the wage differentials for the plaintiff bringing the lawsuit. The court could then award back pay only for the two-year period immediately preceding the filing of the law suit, and could award costs and reasonable attorney’s fees (but not compensatory or punitive damages).
- H.B. No. 5043 AN ACT PROMOTING A FAIR, CIVIL AND HARASSMENT-FREE WORKPLACE. This bill would amend the posting requirements for employers with respect to sexual harassment so as to cover all forms of harassment based upon a suspect classification, and to require that such information be communicated to employees on an annual basis. This bill would also expand the anti-harassment training requirements to, inter alia, include non-supervisory employees and provide additional detail.
- H.B. No. 5044 AN ACT CONCERNING FAIR TREATMENT OF SICK WORKERS. This bill would amend the state’s paid sick leave law so act to cover all hourly and non-exempt employees (not just the “service workers” currently covered by the law). This bill would also expand the law to cover all employers with at least 20 employees (as opposed to 50 employees under the current law); the law would further require employers with fewer than 20 employees to provide unpaid sick leave.
- H.B. No. 5388 AN ACT CONCERNING A FAIR MINIMUM WAGE. This bill would increase the minimum wage from the current $10.10/hour to $12.00/hour on January 1, 2019, $13.50/hour on January 1, 2020, and $15.00/hour on January 1, 2021. Thereafter, the minimum wage would be subject to annual indexing/adjustment for inflation.
The hearing on the above proposed bills will take place at 2:30 P.M. in Room 1D of the Legislative Office Building. 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. Stay tuned.
Please note: Bills affecting labor and employment issues may also be considered by and emerge from other committees, even if somewhat attenuated from the mission of such committees. As an example, Senate Bill No. 321, “An Act Stabilizing Working Families by Limiting ‘On Call’ Shift Scheduling,” which would require employers to provide 24 hours’ notice to an employee of the employee’s shift, is the subject of a public hearing of the General Assembly’s Committee on Children on March 6, 2018.