June 3, 2024

Democrats Successfully Expand Paid Sick Days in Connecticut

For the first time in over a decade, Connecticut is expanding its paid sick days law – and this time, it applies to everyone.

At a ceremonial bill signing in New Haven, Governor Ned Lamont, Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney (D-New Haven), and Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) celebrated the new law, which expands existing state law by covering nearly all private-sector employees in Connecticut – about 1.6 million people – moving from businesses with 25 employees in 2025, to 11 employees in 2026, to those with at least one employee in 2027.

The new law also broadens the range of family members for whom an employee can use their paid sick days to care for, it increases the rate at which employees can accumulate paid sick days, and it broadens the reasons why employees can use paid sick days.

“The expansion of paid sick days to more workers makes sense, both from an economic and a societal standpoint. For low and moderate-income people, the loss of even a couple of day’s pay is a real hardship; it could mean the difference between having the rent that month or not,” Sen. Looney said. “Connecticut’s pro-employee policies are also bringing more young workers into the state, and keeping them here, for the quality of life they can experience.”

“More than a decade ago, Connecticut was a national leader in requiring certain service sectors to provide paid sick days to their employees – but only a fraction of Connecticut’s workforce was covered. Since 2011, we’ve stood still while other cities and states have exceeded what we started,” Sen. Kushner said. “With the signing of this bill, every worker in Connecticut is on their way to earning paid sick days. There has been a new-found respect for working people since the COVID-19 pandemic and offering paid sick days to everyone by 2027 is one way we can show our appreciation and grow our workforce.”

Over the course of two weeks in late April and early May, Democratic legislators fought off more than a dozen Republican amendments and endured more than 12 hours of Republican filibustering in order to pass the new law that will provide every working person in Connecticut with the option of using five paid sick days per year by 2027.

The new law – which Connecticut Republicans unanimously voted against – is the first time Connecticut’s paid sick law has been updated since 2011, when it was the first paid sick day’s law in the nation.

Back then, many businesses owners warned that the creation of paid sick days in Connecticut would ruin their businesses and cause employees to falsely claim they were sick when they just wanted a paid day off.

But a 2013 survey of 250 businesses by The Center for Economic and Policy Research at the City University of New York concluded that “the Connecticut law has had a modest impact on businesses in the state – contrary to many of the fears expressed by business interests prior to the passage of the legislation …  Most employers reported a modest impact or no impact of the law on their costs or business operations, and they typically found that the administrative burden was minimal. Finally, a year and a half after its implementation, more than three-quarters of surveyed employers expressed support for the earned paid sick leave law.”

The study found that – contrary to business fears – 85% of businesses said there was zero abuse of paid sick days, 75% of businesses covered a paid sick day by assigning work to existing employees or allowing a shift swaps, and half of businesses said the new paid sick days law had no effect on their business costs, with another 20% said it was less than two percent

Gov. Lamont and Sens. Looney and Kushner picked up on this enormous discrepancy between the hand-wringing of business CEOs and their Republican cronies in the legislature and the actual, positive impact of such pro-employee policies by noting that Republicans have a long history of voting against public policies that benefit the average person in America – whether it be the end of child labor, the creation of a 40-hour work week, paid family and medical leave, minimum wage hikes, or the expansion of paid sick days.

Gov. Lamont offered this retort to Republican lawmakers who warned of a bleak economic future in Connecticut if employees are allowed to stay home while sick: “I think you told me the same thing about Paid Family and Medical Leave. I want you to know we’ve had more economic growth, more opportunities, more startups, more small businesses with women, women of color that ever before in the history of the state. I love the fact that we are becoming known as the most family-friendly state in the country.”

Sen. Looney offered a similar observation: “The same arguments were used when there was an effort to pass child labor laws, when there was an effort to pass workplace safety laws and the creation of OSHA. There was always a whining and a hand wringing about the effect on business — how terrible it will be. And all that — it was a fraud and a lie then. It’s the same now.”


Posted by Lawrence Cook