This 2023 legislative session was quieter than in past years with many high-profile bills failing to pass. Still, employers should be aware of several significant bills that did pass and some that did not pass but are likely to be resurrected.
Significant Employment-Related Bills That Were Passed:
Expansion of Paid Sick Leave: Effective October 1, 2023, covered employees may use paid sick leave for a “mental health wellness day,” which includes a day during which the employee attends to their emotional and psychological well-being. Employees may now also use sick leave if the employee is a parent or guardian of a child who is a victim and needs time off for medical care, psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability, obtaining services from a victim services organization, relocating due to family violence or sexual assault, or participating in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from family violence or sexual assault.
Expanding Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries: Currently, eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) is limited to various first responders such as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical service personnel, and emergency 9-1-1 dispatchers that are diagnosed with PTSI as a direct result of certain qualifying events (e.g., witnessing someone’s death, viewing a deceased minor) that occur in the line of duty. Effective January 1, 2024, the law will be expanded to allow all employees to be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for PTSI if the same qualifying events occur in the line of duty.
Amendments to Connecticut’s Existing Physician Non-Compete Law: Since 2016, Connecticut has restricted the use of non-compete agreements for physicians. Existing law provides, among other things, that a non-compete covenant for a physician cannot exceed one year and cannot cover a geographic area that is more than 15 miles from the “primary site where such physician practices.” Previously, “primary site” was defined as, “(A) the office, facility or location where a majority of the revenue derived from such physician’s services is generated, or (B) any other office, facility or location where such physician practices and mutually agreed to by the parties and identified in the covenant not to compete.” As of July 1, 2023, primary site now means “any single office, facility or location where such physician practices, as mutually agreed to by the parties and defined in the covenant not to compete.” The new law also provides that, for group practices with 35 or more employees, a physician non-compete agreements entered into, amended, extended or renewed on or after October 1, 2023 will not be enforceable if: (A) the physician does not agree to a proposed material change to the compensation terms of such contract or agreement prior to or at the time of its extension or renewal, and (B) the contract or agreement expires and is not renewed by the employer or the employment or contractual relationship is terminated by the employer, unless such employment or contractual relationship is terminated by the employer for cause. Lastly, effective October 1, 2023, the statutory restrictions on non-compete agreements applicable to physicians also will apply to advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants.
Increased Penalties for Non-Compliance with MyCTSavings Program: Effective June 1, 2023, employers who fail to comply with the MyCTSavings Program will be subject to fines between $500 and $1,500. MyCTSavings requires employers with five or more employees in Connecticut — at least five of whom have been paid more than $5,000 in the calendar year —to join MyCTSavings if they don’t offer a retirement plan for their employees. Eligible employees can then contribute to a Roth IRA through payroll deductions up to the statutory limit.
Striking Employees Eligible for Health Insurance: Effective October 1, 2023, a special enrollment period will allow employees whose health insurance coverage is terminated by an employer because of a labor dispute (e.g., a strike) to receive health insurance through Connecticut’s health insurance exchange.
Notable Bills That Did Not Pass:
- Significant Restrictions on the Use of Non-Compete Agreements—would have invalidated many non-compete agreements unless certain conditions were met.
- Paid Sick Leave Law Expansion—would have expanded the sick leave law to cover all private employers, broadened the circumstances in which employees could use sick leave, and increased the rate of accrual and the amount of sick leave employees could accrue.
- One Minimum Wage—would have eliminated the subminimum wage.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave—would have prohibited disability benefits from being reduced based on paid FMLI benefits that an employee receives.
- Unemployment Benefits for Striking Workers—would have allowed striking workers to collect unemployment compensation benefits.
This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.