Important amendments to the Connecticut Paid Sick Leave Act were included in this year’s legislation passed by the Legislature and expected to be signed by Governor Malloy.
It is now illegal for an employer to “terminate” or “dismiss” (the law does not explain the difference) any employee or “transfer any employee from one work site to another solely in order not to qualify as an employer” as defined in the Paid Sick Leave Act (i.e., in order to get under the 50-employee threshold). Substitute House Bill No. 5269 added this antidiscrimination language to the Paid Sick Leave Act, C.G.S. §31-57(r).
The Act also now provides that the 50-employee requirement for a business to be defined as an employer under the law shall be determined as of the entity’s “payroll for the week containing October 1st.” Therefore, while the amendment simplifies how to determine whether a business falls within the statute’s purview, it punishes a business for dismissing, terminating or transferring an employee prior to the October 1 payroll if the change is done in order to avoid Paid Sick Leave liability.
With “50” being a key jurisdictional number for a business’s inclusion in several legal mandates, including but not limited to the Affordable Care Act, certain Affirmative Action compliance laws, and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, an employer that transfers, dismisses or terminates an employee in order to avoid liability under one of those laws also risks a claim that it reduced its payroll in order to avoid liability under the Paid Sick Leave law.
The take away from this is that if a company is planning layoffs or job eliminations that may reduce its payroll below 50, it should document the precise reasons for the personnel action in order to demonstrate that its employee census was not reduced in order to avoid Paid Sick Leave obligations. Just another potential claim for Connecticut employers to be concerned with.