On June 26, 2023, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed a law expanding the use of state-mandated paid sick leave for service workers.
The law introduces two changes to the reasons for use under the existing Connecticut paid sick leave law.
It allows covered employees to use sick time for a “mental health wellness day”; and
It allows parents or guardians to use sick time for a child who is a victim of family violence or sexual assault.
The effective date for these changes is October 1, 2023.
In 2012, Connecticut was among the first jurisdictions in the country to adopt a sick leave law — which we have tracked from the start. Over a decade later, the law remains noteworthy because of its limited scope. The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees and provides paid sick leave only to non-exempt "service workers," who consist of employees primarily engaged in a variety of defined occupations under the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system. This includes roles such as community health workers, food servers, medical assistants, cooks, dental assistants, receptionists, and certain office workers. Under the law, service workers accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked and may use up to 40 hours per year.
Currently, covered service workers may use sick leave:
for the service worker's own illness, injury, or health condition, need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or preventive medical care;
to care for a child or spouse with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or preventive medical care; or
where a service worker is a victim of family violence or sexual assault.
Effective October 1, 2023, the newly signed bill, Senate Bill No. 2, expands the reasons for use of sick time in two circumstances. Perhaps the more noteworthy development is that services workers will be entitled to use sick time for a "mental health wellness day.” The statute defines the term as “a day during which a service worker attends to such service worker's emotional and psychological well-being in lieu of attending a regularly scheduled shift.” Connecticut is the first state to explicitly include mental health wellness days as a covered reason for paid sick leave use.
The second expansion allows service workers to use paid sick leave if they are the parent or guardian of a child who is a victim of family violence or sexual assault. This coverage extends to medical care, psychological counseling, services from victim organizations, relocation, and participation in legal proceedings related to the family violence or sexual assault.
This enactment comes on the heels of a recent, broader effort by the Connecticut legislature to make paid sick leave available to more workers and to further expand the covered reasons for sick leave use. Neither of twodueling bills — one of which passed the State Senate and would have effectively required 80 hours of sick leave for all workers in the Constitution State — garnered the support necessary to reach the Governor’s desk. Employers should stay tuned as lawmakers may revive those bills or take other action with respect to expanding sick leave in the next legislative session.
What Can Employers Do?
Come October 1, 2023, the expanded uses will be effective under the Connecticut paid sick leave law. Employers should take this opportunity to revise their sick leave policies and practices in addition to informing employees about the expanded reasons for use of sick leave.
Further guidance and regulations may be forthcoming from the Connecticut Department of Labor. Employers also should expect an updated Paid Sick Leave poster with the expanded reasons for use from the Connecticut Department of Labor in the coming months.
As the paid leave landscape continues to expand, companies should reach out to their Seyfarth contact for solutions and recommendations on addressing compliance with the Connecticut sick leave law and sick leave requirements generally. To stay up to date on paid leave developments, click here to sign up for Seyfarth’s Paid Sick Leave mailing list.