Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave Law

February, 2024


In 2011, Connecticut became the first state to enact a statewide requirement for private sector employers to give their employees paid sick leave (PA 11-52).  The law requires most employers with at least 50 employees to annually give certain employees (defined as “service workers”) up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year, which accrues at the rate of one hour of paid leave for each 40 hours worked.

Last year, the legislature considered bills that would have expanded the law to cover nearly all private sector employers and employees, and increased the rate at which employees accrue the leave (SB 1178, 2023 and SB 6668, 2023).  The bills failed but the legislature may revisit this issue this year.

A Summary of CT’s Paid Sick Leave Law

  1. Eligible employees cannot use the leave until they have worked at least 680 hours for their employer;
  • Employers must provide the paid sick leave at a pay rate that equals either the service worker’s normal hourly wage or the state’s minimum hourly wage, whichever is greater
  • Service workers may use the sick leave for their own, their spouse’s or their child’s (1) illness, injury, or health condition; (2) medical diagnosis, care or treatment; (3) preventative medical care; (4) a “mental health wellness day”; (5) certain reasons related to being a victim of family violence or sexual assault.  Employers can require medical documentation to support leaves of at least three consecutive days.
  • Employers can also meet these requirements by offering any other type of paid leave (e.g., paid vacation, personal days, paid time off), or a combination of other paid leave, that accrues at the same rate and can be used for the same reasons (CGS §31-57s(c)).
  • The definition of an “employer” does not include (1) manufacturers, i.e., businesses classified in sectors 31, 32, or 33 of the North American Industrial Classification System, or (2) nationally chartered, non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that provide recreation, child care, and education services (e.g., the YMCA).
  • The employer’s number of employees must be annually determined based on its payroll for the week containing October 1.  Employers cannot terminate, dismiss or transfer an employee solely to exempt from coverage under the law.
  • An “employee” under the law is anyone engaged in service to an employer in the employer’s business (CGS §31-57r(3).  However, employers only have to provide paid sick leave to those employees who are also “service workers” under the law.
  • The law specifies certain “service worker” occupations, too numerous to include here, but does cover EMT’s and ambulance drivers, bartenders, cashiers, computer operators , fast food workers, hotel clerks, LPN’s, RN’s, psychiatric aides, social and human service assistants, taxi drivers and waiters and waitresses.
  • “Service worker” does not include day or temporary workers (those paid on either a per diem basis or an occasional or irregular basis.

The law prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees because thy request or use paid sick leave under the law or the employer’s own paid sick leave policy or filing a complaint with the CT Department of Labor.

An employee must file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, who may hold a hearing upon receiving the complaint.

If the Commissioner finds a violation, the employer is liable to the Department of Labor for a $500 civil penalty for each violation.  The Commissioner may award the employee all appropriate relief, including payment for used paid sick leave, rehiring or reinstatement, back wages, and reestablishment of employee benefits.  Any employee aggrieved by the Commissioner’s decision may appeal to the Connecticut Superior Court under the state’s Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (CGS §31-57v).

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