Connecticut’s 2023 General Assembly concluded last week. But for the first time in many years, many of the major pieces of legislation in the labor and employment area did not pass. In fact, the legislative session will ultimately be thought of for the bills that died on the floor, rather than for the bills that passed.
In this post, we will recap the key points from this past term, highlight the enacted laws and shed light on some close calls that could have had significant implications.
Revisions to State Wage Law in the Budget Implementer:
Connecticut’s prevailing wage law underwent amendments to extend coverage to contractors providing “security services.” Effective from October 1, 2023, the bill also mandates contractors to adhere to standard wage rates and make any necessary adjustments annually. The law also enhances enforcement provisions, enabling aggrieved employees to bring civil actions in Superior Court, providing employee rights and remedies for violations.
Expanding Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries:
Public Act No. 23-35, enacted on June 5, 2023, expanded the definition of “employee” to allow nearly all workers, beyond first responders, to claim workers’ compensation benefits for certain qualifying events related to post-traumatic stress injuries. The act also aligns the recovery options for employees with those available to first responders.
Other Enacted Bills:
Although not as consequential, several bills were passed that address various aspects of administration, employee benefits, and compliance.
- HB 6552: Implements the administration recommendations of the Connecticut Retirement Security Program.
- SB 228: Permits unionized employees on strike to be eligible for health benefits through the state’s health insurance exchange.
- SB 984: Modifies the process for hiring state employees.
- SB 1123: Includes residential construction in prevailing wage contract rates.
- SB 1124: Requires a study on state service hiring practices.
- SB 805: Requires the state labor department to study data breaches and false unemployment claims.
- HB 6549: Implements recommendations by modifying and repealing obsolete provisions and statutes relevant to the Department of Labor.
- SB 1040: Permits remote notarization of documents under specified conditions.
- HB 6826: Expands Connecticut’s False Claims Act to apply to most state programs and benefits.
- SB 3: Sets up data privacy requirements for businesses, but with little impact on employment law.
While several bills were passed, there were also some close calls that narrowly missed becoming law. These bills, had they been enacted, could have had significant implications for employers. Here are a few notable examples:
- Non-Compete Legislation (HB 6594): This bill aimed to invalidate most non-compete agreements unless specific conditions were met but did not progress further.
- Trade Association Group Health Plans (HB 6710): This bipartisan effort sought to allow trade associations to offer large group health plans to members but faced strong opposition from patient advocacy groups and did not receive a vote.
- Protection of Warehouse Workers (Senate Substitute Bill 152, as amended by Senate Amendment “A”): Approved by the Senate but not voted on in the House, this bill aimed to limit unreasonable production quotas and prohibit adverse employment actions based on quotas in certain warehouse distribution centers.
- Expanding CT Paid Sick Leave Law (SB 1178, 1179, as amended by Senate Amendment “A”): These proposals aimed to expand paid sick leave coverage to all private sector employers, broaden the range of family members covered, increase the rate of accrual, and broaden the reasons for using leave. The bills made progress but ultimately died in the House.
Conclusion: After a busy few years including creation of paid leave benefits and increases in Connecticut’s minimum wage law, the 2023 legislative session was a relatively quiet one. Nevertheless, employers should stay informed about these legislative changes and be prepared for potential future developments in employment law. Use this time to update handbooks and policies and ensure that you have kept up with all the developments in the law.