April 25, 2024

House Votes to Expand Connecticut’s Paid Sick Law

The House voted Wednesday to update the state’s paid sick leave law, expanding coverage from approximately 12% of Connecticut’s workforce to nearly all working people over the course of three years.

A majority of the chamber’s Democrats sent the bill to the state Senate on an 88 to 61 vote, with every Republican voting in opposition. The Senate is expected to take up the bill before the legislative session adjourns on May 8.

During a morning press briefing, House Democratic leaders told reporters the bill was intended to help workers by making sure they were not required to choose between going to work sick and forfeiting a paycheck.

“Our primary objective here is to ensure that all Connecticut employees are not forced to compromise their well-being or that of their families, that of their coworkers,” Rep. Manny Sanchez, co-chair of the legislature’s Labor Committee, said.

Connecticut’s current paid sick law applies to private sector employers with more than 50 employees. The bill lowers this threshold over the course of three years until businesses with as few as one employee are covered.

The proposal requires an employee to work at least 120 days before becoming eligible for paid sick time benefits.

Throughout an almost six hour debate, Republicans spoke at length against extending paid sick time benefits to more Connecticut workers. Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, argued that extending sick time benefits to more workers would reinforce a reputation that Connecticut was unfriendly to business.

“This is a bad bill,” Dubitsky said. “This bill should fail and fail miserably.”

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas told reporters that the same arguments were lodged against the underlying law when it was first passed more than 13 years ago.

“I don’t know that Connecticut is worse off than we were 13 years ago when we’ve had paid sick days for more than a decade,” Rojas, D-East Hartford, said.

If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill would bring Connecticut in line with Washington, D.C. and the states of Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington, which all require paid sick leave for any business with one or more employees.

Following the House vote, Gov. Ned Lamont issued a statement, which urged lawmakers to adopt a separate bill, which he proposed to update Connecticut’s paid sick leave law.

“If there’s anything we have learned from the recent outbreak of a viral pandemic, it’s that illness can spread quickly, and workers are sometimes left in a situation in which they have to choose between going to the workplace sick and risk spreading that illness to their coworkers and clients, or sacrificing a day’s wage and be unable to support themselves and their families,” Lamont said.