Connecticut Law Mandates Paid Sick Leave for Service-Sector Workers

June 8, 2011

Connecticut will become the first state to require service-sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers, following an early-morning vote by the state House on June 4.

Governor Dannel Malloy (D) is expected to sign the bill into law before the end of the year.

The bill will require employers in the service sector with more than 50 employees to award one hour of earned sick leave per worker for every 40 hours worked. Only employees who earn an hourly wage are covered by the requirement.

Employees can receive a maximum of five days of earned sick leave per year under the terms of the bill.

Implications for Nursing Home and Home Care Workers

An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 workers in Connecticut will be covered by the legislation, including restaurant servers, cashiers, security guards, and nursing home assistants and home care aides.

Many nursing home and home care workers who get sick are faced with a difficult decision: Stay home and lose a day's pay, or go to work and risk spreading their illness to the vulnerable people they provide care for.

Beginning in 2012, when the law takes effect, "hundreds of thousands of working families in Connecticut will no longer have to choose between their health and their economic security when illness strikes," said Debra Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, in a statement.

Other Paid Sick Leave Laws

In 2006, San Francisco became the first city to pass a law mandating paid sick leave for certain employees.

Two years later, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., passed similar laws. California and Massachusetts are considering their own mandatory paid sick leave laws, as are Philadelphia, Denver, and Seattle.

On a national level, the Healthy Families Act, re-introduced to the Senate and House last month, would mandate paid sick days for tens of millions of workers across the country.

An estimated 40 million American workers -- including more than 80 percent of low-income workers -- do not get paid sick leave.

– by Matthew Ozga

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