Employment Related Bills Passed in the Connecticut Legislature

Last month we provided an update on several employment related bills proposed in the Connecticut Legislature. The legislative session ended on June 5, and four bills were passed that, pending the Governor’s signature, could have a significant impact on employers. The bills include an increase in the state minimum wage, changes to the personnel file statutes, non-compete agreements, and the establishment of a task force to study the feasibility of implementing a paid FMLA insurance program. House Bill 6667, which would have expanded free speech protection for employees, did not pass.

Minimum Wage: Public Act No. 13-117 increases the state minimum wage to $8.70 per hour on January 1, 2014 and $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2015. The bill does not link increases in the minimum wage to increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Personnel Files: Effective October 1, 2013, Public Act 13-176 amends the Connecticut Personnel Files Act to require employers to: (a) allow a current employee to inspect, or provide a copy of, the employee’s personnel file within seven business days of receiving a written request from the employee; (b) allow a former employee to inspect, or provide a copy of, the former employee’s personnel file within ten business days of receiving a written request from the respective former employee, as long as the request is made within one year after the termination of the employee; (c) provide an employee with a copy of any documentation of any disciplinary action imposed on that employee within one business day after imposing the disciplinary action; (d) immediately provide an employee with a copy of any documented notice of that employee’s termination of employment; and (e) include a clear and conspicuous statement in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination, or performance evaluation that, if the employee disagrees with any information contained in such statement, he or she may submit a written statement explaining his or her position.

If an employer violates the Act, the bill allows the Labor Commissioner to consider potential mitigating factors when setting a civil penalty for the violation, such as: (a) the level of assessment necessary to ensure immediate and continued compliance with the Act; (b) the character and degree of impact of the violation; and (c) any prior violations by the employer.

Non-Compete Agreements: Effective October 1, 2013, House Bill 6658 requires that an employee whose employer is acquired by or merged with a new employer, and is now subject to a non-compete agreement, be given the agreement in writing and provided no less than seven days to consider the merits of entering into the agreement. An employee

may waive his or her right to consider the agreement if the waiver is in writing. The writing must set forth the rights being waived and be signed by the employee before entering into the non-compete agreement. The provision that would have required employers who violate the statute to pay court and attorney’s fees was not included in the final version of the bill.

Paid FMLA Benefits: Special Act No. 13-3 establishes a Task Force on Family Medical Leave Insurance to study the feasibility of establishing an insurance program to provide short-term benefits to workers unable to work due to (a) pregnancy or birth of a child, (b) a non-work related illness or injury, or (c) the need to care for a seriously ill child, spouse or parent. The Task Force will consist of 23 appointed members; only three will represent the interests of businesses. The Task Force is to report its findings no later than October 1, 2014.