When Connecticut in 2012 became the first state nationwide to require private sector employees to provide paid sick leave to employees, the bill passed by the narrowest of margins. To garner votes, the scope of the bill was narrowed: it would only apply to employers with at least 50 employees; manufacturing operations were excluded; only a covered employer’s “service workers,” a collection of about 70 job titles would be eligible for PSL.
Now, six years later, legislative creep has come to Connecticut. A bill is pending in the House that would undo many of those compromises. The Act Concerning the Fair Treatment of Sick Workers (HB5044) was approved last week by the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees strictly along party lines—7 Democrats voted to move the bill; 6 Republicans voted no. It would reduce the size of an employer required to provide paid sick leave from 50 to 20 employees. It would require employers with less than 20 employees to provide unpaid sick leave. It would eliminate the “service worker” limitation and require covered employers to provide sick leave to all non-exempt employees. The manufacturing exemption would be deleted. The waiting time before an employee could use accrued leave would be reduced from 680 hours, or 17 weeks, to 90 calendar days.
The bill has been sent to the Legislative Commissioners’ Office, which checks its constitutionality and consistency with other laws. After that stop, a fiscal analysis and legislative explanation will be done before bill is passed to the House and Senate for a vote. As we have seen many times before, a state’s status as a red or blue state is a very good indicator of the likelihood of success of a PSL bill. Connecticut is a blue state. Governor Dannel Malloy is a Democrat and has said he supports this bill. The Democrats have a majority of the House seats. In the Senate, there is an 18-18 split. The Lieutenant Governor, a Democrat, votes to break ties.
Time is also a factor. The General Assembly adjourns in about seven weeks, on May 9. That leaves plenty of time for PSL-sausage making (again).