5 New Laws on Labor and the Workplace

The Connecticut General Assembly passed several laws during the 2021 regular session regulating labor and the workplace.

Here are five:

Wage disclosure and compensation

Under An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position, employers are required to pay male and female workers equal pay for comparable rather than equal work.

For the purposes of establishing a comparison for a case of wage discrimination, the standard is no longer performing the same duties, but instead two employees exercising a comparable level of “skill, effort, and responsibility” under “similar work conditions” 

By law, effective Oct. 1, any difference in wages must be traced back to seniority, merit, productivity or another system based on other factors, which can include credentials, education, experience or geographic location. 

The bill also requires employers to provide job applicants and employees with a wage range for a position.

Job applicants and employees can bring a lawsuit within two years, under the new law, and employers can be “found liable for compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and costs, punitive damages, and legal and equitable relief as the court deems just and proper.”

COVID Rehiring 

Under An Act Requiring Employers to Recall Certain Laid off Workers in Order of Seniority, restaurants, hotels and building service companies with more than 15 employees who laid off workers between March 10, 2020 and May 1, 2022 because of COVID-19 must give preference to laid off employees who worked for the company at least six months of the year prior to the pandemic.

The law specifies how an employee must be notified, which positions an employee is offered, and how long the employee can wait to accept a position.

A laid-off employee may still remain eligible for rehiring, after declining a job offer due to conditions related to COVID-19, until the end of the Governor’s declared state of emergency. 

Workers’ Compensation 

An Act Expanding Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Certain Mental or Emotional Impairments Suffered by Health Care Providers in Connection with COVID-19 broadens eligibility for workers’ compensation to include post traumatic stress suffered by emergency medical service personnel, Department of Correction employees and emergency dispatchers from events related to the pandemic. 

Under the new law, these workers are eligible to receive the same benefits currently offered to police officers, firefighters and parole officers who witness a traumatic event, such as a death or a traumatic injury. 

Wages for public works projects

Effective Oct 1., An Act Codifying Prevailing Wage Contract Rates revises rules for determining wages and compensation for public works projects of more than $1 million or renovations of more than $100,000.

The new law divides projects into two categories — building, heavy, and highway construction, and residential construction, including single or multifamly housing or dormitories of fewer than four stories.

Breastfeeding in the workplace

Under An Act Concerning Breastfeeding in the Workplace, employers are required to make “reasonable efforts” to accommodate nursing mothers, including a private place other than a bathroom stall to express milk, access to cold storage and an electrical outlet — with consideration for the size, financial resources and the nature of the business.

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