Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

February 18, 2022

Sen. Kushner and Senate Democrats Announce Worker Protection Initiatives for 2022

HARTFORD – Today, state Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) and Senate Democratic Caucus leaders unveiled legislative proposals to expand worker protections in Connecticut, including fair scheduling, pandemic pay, expanding paid sick days to more employees, and other pro-employee measures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a real employment reckoning in the United States and across the world. There is a new focus on wages and working conditions and the value of labor, and there is an increasing respect not only for ‘frontline’ workers – doctors and nurses – but also for ‘essential workers’ – restaurant employees and grocery store clerks and big box store workers and health care aides and package delivery employees and others,” said Sen. Kushner, who is senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. “With that new-found recognition of the value of their labor comes a new responsibility on the part of lawmakers to address the workplace issues that they are facing, and to ensure that their work is protected and valued. Lawmakers enabled CEOs and hedge fund managers to amass great wealth for many decades; now is the time for us to give equal consideration to the frontline employees who work hard every day to keep us safe and keep our economy going – especially under the hazardous conditions that we’ve all experienced over the past two years. That’s what these bills do.”

“Right now we are positioned to really put our money where our mouth is concerning our working class citizens, and I am excited, hopeful and willing to ensure we do just that,” said Senator Jorge Cabrera (D-Hamden), Senate Vice-Chair of the Labor  and Public Employees Committee. “We’ve all heard the praises for our courageous frontline workers, our grocery store employees, healthcare workers and teachers. It’s time we really reward them with pandemic pay. Furthermore, it’s time to truly address the inequities made worse by this pandemic that rest primarily on our working-class folks. Our state has a balanced budget, surpluses and a maxed-out Rainy Day fund. We can do this, and I will do my best to make sure we do this.”

Many Labor Committee bills this session could be thematically grouped under one heading: An Act Protecting Connecticut Workers. The 2022 proposals include:

  • An Act Concerning Fair Work Week Schedule requires certain employers to provide advanced notice to certain employees of that employees’ work schedule.
  • An Act Concerning Protection of Warehouse Workers requires warehouse operators to disclose their various work quotas and work speed metrics to employees and government agencies. It also bans so-called “time off task” penalties that affect the health and safety of employees. The California state legislature passed a similar bill last fall that gives Amazon and other warehouse workers new power to fight speed quotas, which critics say have forced workers to skip bathroom and rest breaks and skirt safety measures.

  • An Act Concerning Expanding Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries for All Employees would extend existing post-traumatic stress injury workers’ compensation claims coverage – now available mostly to police, fire, corrections, EMS, and other first responders – to all employees for those admittedly rare instances where an employee witnesses or experiences a traumatic event that leads them to being diagnosed with a PTSI.

  • An Act Concerning Expansion of Connecticut Paid Sick Days would expand the number of paid sick days that employees in Connecticut must receive, bringing us in line with other states. Connecticut state law already requires certain employers with 50 or more employees to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to “service workers,” which is defined as an hourly, nonexempt employee engaged in a broad list of detailed occupation code numbers and titles. In Rhode Island, sick leave applies to employers with 18 or more employees. In Maine, it’s 10, and in New York, five.
  • An Act Concerning Hero Pandemic Pay for Essential Workers would provide pandemic pay for Connecticut’s essential frontline workers.

  • An Act Concerning Unemployment Overpayment seeks to address the 2020 state Labor Department overpayment of some unemployment benefits by creating a pathway to waive the repayment requirements for unemployment benefit recipients who were overpaid through no fault of their own.