May 6, 2024

Expansion of Paid Sick Days Passes Over Republican Opposition

After a more than eight-hour debate filled with Republican speeches viciously opposing working people in Connecticut being offered paid sick leave by their employers, Senate Democrats gave final approval to a bill that expands Connecticut’s decade-old paid sick time law from covering only about 12% of the state workforce to covering nearly the entire state workforce by 2027.

The bill passed the Senate on a purely partisan 23-12 vote and now heads to Governor Lamont for his signature of the bill into law.

Connecticut’s current paid sick leave law dates back to 2011. Back then, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring many employers to allow workers to earn paid sick leave; the law took on January 1, 2012.

That 2011 bill, however, only required businesses with 50 or more “service workers” (i.e., people working in hospitality and retail) to get up to 40 hours of paid sick leave every year.

A year and a half after that 2011 paid sick leave law went into effect, a survey of 251 Connecticut employers found that the new law had a modest impact on businesses in the state – contrary to the fears expressed by business interests prior to the passage of the legislation. About two-thirds of workers took advantage of their new paid sick days, taking a median of three paid sick days per year. Despite their stated fears, 86 percent of employers found no employee abuse of the paid sick leave law, and half said it didn’t affect their businesses costs.

Today’s bill passed by the Senate, House Bill 5005, “An Act Expanding Paid Sick Days in the State,” will increase Connecticut’s outdated, decade-old paid sick leave law in several ways:

  • It expands 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.
  • It broadens the range of family members for whom an employee can use their paid sick leave to care for.
  • It increases the rate at which employees can accumulate paid sick leave.
  • It broadens the reasons why employees can use paid sick leave.

Since Connecticut passed the first paid sick leave law in the nation 13 years ago, it has been surpassed by several New England states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont – each of which already requires paid sick days for all workers.

Posted by Lawrence Cook