While many employers have been focused on pandemic-related issues this past year, there are important new Connecticut employment laws that become effective on October 1, 2021. Employers should review and, where necessary, update their existing policies and practices and train staff on these new laws.

For your convenience, we have summarized some of the laws and provided additional links for more detail below:

An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Ranges (Public Act 21-30)

Public Act 21-30 adds another layer of complexity for employers engaged in hiring and also amends the State’s current equal pay laws. This new law prohibits employers from failing or refusing to provide a job applicant with the “wage range” of the position for which the applicant is applying. Under this law, “wage range” is defined as “the range of wages an employer anticipates relying on when setting wages for a position, and may include reference  to any applicable pay scale, previously determined range of wages for the position, actual range of wages for those employees currently holding comparable positions or the employer’s budgeted amount for the position.” The law also provides notice to current employees under certain circumstances as well.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Ensure that wage ranges are providing in job postings or offer letters, or somewhere during the hiring process.
  • Determine the appropriate “wage ranges” for positions
  • Add in “wage ranges” to any change in positions
  • Ensure that HR personnel are aware of reporting obligations to employees and applicants when wage ranges are requested.

Read more here: New “Wage Range” Law Takes Effect October 1, 2021

An Act Concerning Breastfeeding in the Workplace (Public Act 21-27)

 Public Act 21-27 adds three new parameters for the existing requirement that an employer provides a lactation room or other location in the workplace for a mother to express milk. Previously, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-40w only required that such room or location be private, in close proximity to the work area, and not a toilet stall.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Review existing practices and determine if current designation for lactation room meets applicable legal standard
  • Purchase refrigerator for lactation room
  • Ensure that any lactation room is private, preferably with a lock

Read more: Connecticut Legislative Update: Two New Employment Laws Impacting Public and Private Employers

An Act Concerning Access to Certain Public Employees by The Exclusive Bargaining Representative of a Public Employer Bargaining Unit (Public Act 21-25)

On June 4, 2021, Governor Lamont signed into law Public Act 21-25, which is effective October 1, 2021.  This Act, entitled “An Act Concerning Access to Certain Public Employees by The Exclusive Bargaining Representative of a Public Employer Bargaining Unit,” sets forth new obligations on public employers in Connecticut regarding union access to their employees as well as payroll deductions.  In addition to imposing new requirements on public employers, the Act leaves open numerous questions that will have to be addressed by the courts, the State Board of Labor Relations, or future legislative action.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Begin compiling the personnel information and data required to be provided by the Act and consider any accommodations that will need to be reached with unions as it relates to information that may be protected by other statutes
  • Review any existing collective bargaining agreements to ensure that any access provisions comply with the requirements of the Act
  • Ensure that any current payroll deduction agreements are up to date and modify any union security provisions as necessary
  • Consider whether any electronic communication policies need to be revised to comply with the Act
  • Formulate a negotiations strategy to address any open issues relating to mandatory subjects of bargaining resulting from the Act

Read more: New Obligations for Connecticut Public Employers With Respect To Union Access to Employees

An Act Deterring Age Discrimination in Employment Applications (Public Act 21-69)

This new law amends existing law by making it a discriminatory practice for an employer or an employer’s agent to request or require an applicant to provide their age, date of birth, and dates of attendance at or date of graduation from an educational institution.  This prohibition applies to an “initial employment application”, suggesting that an employer can ask for this information later on in the hiring process.  However, there are some exceptions employers should consider.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Job applications should be updated to remove any questions regarding dates of birth, dates of graduation or dates of attendance at education institutions.
  • Staff should be trained to understand that such questions may be inappropriate in the hiring process.

Read More: Stop Asking For Date of Birth or Graduation Dates on Job Applications

The Clean Air Act and An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis (Public Act 21-1)

Effective July 1, 2021, recreational marijuana became legal for personal use in Connecticut. However, many of the rules regarding cannabis use by employees will not change until July 1, 2022.   In fact, the new law provides employers with significant authority to prohibit marijuana use in the workplace and punish marijuana use outside of the workplace. The new law also imposes additional restrictions on smoking and vaping (both tobacco and cannabis) at work. The rules regulating smoking in the workplace go into effect on October 1, 2021.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Employers must ban smoking and e-cigarette use of tobacco and cannabis in any area of the workplace.
  • Employers must ban smoking both inside the workplace and outside within 25 feet of a doorway, operable window or air intake vent. This will affect where employees can take smoke breaks.
  • Employers should update their existing policies and practices and update where (if at all) employees may smoke during breaks or before or after work.

Read more: Employers Have Much to Track in New Cannabis Law

Educational Assistance Programs

Another new law found in the budget implementer requires that any employer in Connecticut with 100 or more employees must notify any Connecticut residents about whether such employer offers to employees an “education assistance program” under federal law. If it does, then the employer must also notify such employees of the benefits included in such program and the manner in which an employee may enroll in such program. An education assistance program (under federal law) is “a separate written plan of an employer for the exclusive benefit of his employees to provide such employees with educational assistance”. This law goes into effect December 1, 2021.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • For larger employers, determine if you have an educational assistance program as defined by federal law.
  • If you do, ensure that a notification is provided to Connecticut residents by December 1, 2021.

Read more: Larger Employers Face New Notification Obligation to Employees

Changes to State Sexual Harassment Training Law (Public Act 21-109)

The State’s sexual harassment training requirement law has been updated in one subtle way. First, employers will not be required to provide sexual harassment training to an employee who, within two years of being hired, received such training while working for another employer. However, only in-person or online training provided by the Connecticut Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities satisfies this requirement.  If the employee received the training from any other third party, the employee will still be required to participate in the new employer’s training.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • When hiring new employees, ask the employee whether they have previously received any sexual harassment prevention training conducted by the CHRO. If the employee responds affirmatively, then the employee will be exempt from training.
  • However, consider providing such training to the employee regardless of prior status in order for the employee to understand the concepts and the company’s policy regarding the prohibition of sexual harassment.

Read more: Legislature Tweaks Law to Allow Employees to Carryover Some Harassment Prevention Training

For a deep dive on these laws and other legislative developments, join us for our Fall Labor & Employment Law Webinar Series in October. Details coming soon.

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Photo of Jarad M. Lucan Jarad M. Lucan

Jarad practices labor and employment law on behalf of both public and private sector clients.  Jarad has successfully represented employers in grievance arbitration matters, prohibited practice proceedings before the State Board of Labor Relations, and unfair labor practice proceedings before the National Labor…

Jarad practices labor and employment law on behalf of both public and private sector clients.  Jarad has successfully represented employers in grievance arbitration matters, prohibited practice proceedings before the State Board of Labor Relations, and unfair labor practice proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.  He has also represented employers in cases involving claims of discrimination and retaliation before the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and State and Federal Courts.

Photo of Daniel Schwartz Daniel Schwartz

Dan represents employers in various employment law matters such as employment discrimination, restrictive covenants, human resources, retaliation and whistle blowing, and wage and hour issues. He has extensive trial and litigation experience in both federal and state courts in a variety of areas…

Dan represents employers in various employment law matters such as employment discrimination, restrictive covenants, human resources, retaliation and whistle blowing, and wage and hour issues. He has extensive trial and litigation experience in both federal and state courts in a variety of areas, including commercial litigation and trade secret enforcement. Dan is the author of the independent Connecticut Employment Law Blog. The blog discusses new and noteworthy events in labor and employment law on a daily basis.

Photo of Sheridan L. King Sheridan L. King

Sheridan’s practice is dedicated to identifying, evaluating and mitigating the array of legal and compliance risks that employers face.  She regularly counsels employers on issues including hiring, termination, privacy issues, compensation issues, state and federal compliance, and state and federal leave and paid…

Sheridan’s practice is dedicated to identifying, evaluating and mitigating the array of legal and compliance risks that employers face.  She regularly counsels employers on issues including hiring, termination, privacy issues, compensation issues, state and federal compliance, and state and federal leave and paid time off laws. She also works diligently with employers to prepare business focused and legally compliant employment strategies as well as provides advice as to how employers may be affected by and handle the latest employment laws and regulations.

Photo of Sarah A. Westby Sarah A. Westby

Sarah Westby represents employers in labor disputes and employment-related litigation. She has significant experience litigating cases in state and federal court, administrative agencies, and through alternate dispute resolution. In addition to defending employment cases in court, Sarah counsels clients on a wide variety…

Sarah Westby represents employers in labor disputes and employment-related litigation. She has significant experience litigating cases in state and federal court, administrative agencies, and through alternate dispute resolution. In addition to defending employment cases in court, Sarah counsels clients on a wide variety of employment and contract-related issues, including alleged discrimination and sexual harassment, compensation, termination, and severance.