Apr 16 2018
A couple of years ago, National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health polled working adults concerning how their health impacts their work. According to the survey, sickness doesn’t stop many workers from going to work.
To its credit, Connecticut has been a pioneer when it comes to sick leave. In 2012, the State enacted the country’s first paid sick leave law, requiring certain employers to provide paid sick leave to their hourly employees. Federal law, in contrast, has no such requirement for paid sick leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does grant up to twelve weeks of leave, offering some job protection. However, FMLA leave is not paid, and the FMLA only applies to “serious health conditions” and not, for example, to the common cold.
Connecticut Laws and Sick Leave
In Connecticut, employers who have fifty or more employees are obligated to offer paid sick leave to certain classifications of workers. If you work for a smaller company, your boss may elect to pay you sick time but is not legally required to do so. But if you work for a larger company, and you are a service worker, then you are entitled to paid sick leave under Connecticut law.
What are Service Workers?
According to the statute, service workers fall into particular categories as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system. The list is intended to be broad, although some detailed occupational codes are included. The qualifying professions include:
- Social workers and Human Services Assistants
- Nurses, Pharmacists, and Physician Assistants
- Bartenders, Food Servers, Hosts, and Hostesses
- Retail Salespersons, Cashiers, and Tellers
- Receptionists, Secretaries, and Messengers
This list is by no means exhaustive. An experienced employee rights attorney can help you understand if your profession qualifies for paid sick leave.
Bear in mind that a number of exceptions do apply. Temporary or day workers, for example, are not entitled to paid sick leave. Nor are employees whose employment is covered by collective bargaining agreements, since the CBA governs in those circumstances. Also, the statute specifically excludes the requirement of paid sick leave for postal workers and certain other work classifications.
Permissible Uses for Sick Leave
Eligible employees may receive paid sick leave for a variety of circumstances. Workers themselves do not have to be ill, as the time may be used to care for a spouse or child. In either case, the following are reasons to use paid sick leave:
- Illness, injury, or health condition
- Medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental illness or physical illness, injury or health condition
- Preventative medical care
Additionally, if the service worker is a victim of either sexual assault of family violence, paid sick leave can be used for more than seeking medical or psychological care. It is also available for relocation efforts or participation in civil or criminal proceedings.
Paid Sick Leave: The Numbers
According to Connecticut state law, sick leave benefits are funded annually. Service workers earn one hour of sick leave for every forty hours worked. Sick leave may be used in one-hour increments to a maximum of forty hours per year. Unused accrued hours may be carried from one year to the next.
What happens to an eligible service worker’s accrued sick time if he or she separates from the employer? If the employee worked more than an average of ten hours weekly and completed 680 hours from the date of hire, then she is entitled to a payout for the accrued sick time.
At Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., we advocate for employee rights. If you have concerns related to your compensation or treatment at work, we want to help you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.