The Connecticut General Assembly passed several laws during the 2021 regular session regulating labor and the workplace. The few laws passed by the Assembly are as follows:
- Public Act No. 21-30: An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position
Effective from Oct. 1, 2021, employers are required to pay male and female workers equal pay for comparable rather than equal work. Employers must disclose the wage range for a vacant position to any job applicants before or at the time an offer of compensation is made, or at the applicant’s request, whichever occurs first.
The bill also requires employers to provide job applicants and employees with a wage range for a position. Job applicants and employees can bring a lawsuit within two years, under the new law, and employers can be “found liable for compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and costs, punitive damages, and legal and equitable relief as the court deems just and proper.” Read the legislation HERE.
- Senate Bill No. 658: COVID Rehiring
The bill pertains to employees laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic (occurring after March 10, 2020 and up to December 31, 2024). A laid-off employee may still remain eligible for rehiring, after declining a job offer due to conditions related to COVID-19, until the end of the Governor’s declared state of emergency. It ensures employers to recall certain Laid off Workers in Order of Seniority, restaurants, hotels and building service companies with more than 15 employees who laid off workers between March 10, 2020 and May 1, 2022 because of COVID-19 must give preference to laid off employees who worked for the company at least six months of the year prior to the pandemic. Read HERE.
- Senate Bill No. 660: Workers’ Compensation
An Act Expanding Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Certain Mental or Emotional Impairments Suffered by Health Care Providers in Connection with COVID-19 broadens eligibility for workers’ compensation to include post-traumatic stress suffered by emergency medical service personnel. Under the new law, these workers are eligible to receive the same benefits currently offered to police officers, firefighters and parole officers who witness a traumatic event, such as a death or a traumatic injury. Read HERE.
- House Bill 6398: Wages for public works projects
Effective Oct 1., An Act Codifying Prevailing Wage Contract Rates revises rules for determining wages and compensation for public works projects of more than $1 million or renovations of more than $100,000. The new law divides projects into two categories — building, heavy, and highway construction, and residential construction. Read HERE.
- Public Act No. 21-27: Breastfeeding in the workplace
An Act concerning breastfeeding in the workplace, establishes certain criteria for employer-provided areas used by employees to express breast milk. Employers are required to make “reasonable efforts” to accommodate nursing mothers, including a private place other than a bathroom stall to express milk, access to cold storage and an electrical outlet — with consideration for the size, financial resources and the nature of the business. Read HERE.
- Public Act No. 21-2: An Act Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair
The new law amends the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, which already prohibits employers with three or more employees from discriminating against employees based on protected traits – namely, religion, national origin, alienage, color, race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, blindness, mental disability, physical disability, or status as a veteran. Specifically, the bill states that “race” shall encompass ethnic traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles. It specifies that protective hairstyles shall include braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros, and afro puffs. This law became effective upon passage.
- Senate Bill No. 1201: An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-use Cannabis
The bill legalizes the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older starting July 1, 2021. A provisional cannabis establishment licensee will be required to enter into a labor peace agreement with a labor organization as well as a project labor agreement prior to construction of a cannabis establishment; however, these requirements are likely to raise possible preemption issues under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employers may also want to consider the implications this bill has on drug-testing programs, especially pre-employment testing.
*Tanvi Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this story together.