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2019 Legislative Session: It’s shaping up to be a busy year in Labor and Employment

Only a few months into the new legislative session, Connecticut’s legislators appear ready to tackle some big issues impacting Connecticut employers in 2019.

Although several employment-related initiatives took effect January 1, 2019, including mandatory IRA requirements for private sector employers; expansion of certain health care benefits for women and individuals under 21; and prohibitions on salary history inquiries (see prior posts here and here), Connecticut employers did not see many significant statutory changes in 2018.

2019, however, is shaping up to be different.  So far, new proposed legislation includes the following hot topics:

Paid Family and Medical Leave – Several bills have been introduced to establish a paid family and medical leave program in Connecticut. The current proposal would significantly expand eligibility and qualification criteria and bring Connecticut FMLA in line with the federal entitlement period. (See post here)

Minimum Wage – Two proposed bills which just passed out of committee would provide increases to the minimum wage to reach $15/hour by 2022, another supported by the Governor would phase in increases more gradually and not reach $15/hr until 2023.

Medical Marijuana – Would provide that no employer is required to make accommodations for or allow employees to use or possess cannabis in the workplace.

Non-compete Agreements – Would prohibit employers from requiring certain employees from signing covenants not to compete.

Captive Audience Meetings – Would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee attend or participate in meetings sponsored by the employer concerning the employer’s views on political or religious matters.

Non-disclosure Agreements – Would place restrictions on workplace nondisclosure agreements related to settlement of sexual harassment claims.

Pay Equity – Would “ensure all employees receive fair and equal pay for equal work” (although what that exactly means is unclear).

Janus Decision – In what appear to be responses to last year’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, one proposal would address the authorization process for employee payroll deductions; another would allow union presence at orientations for new employees.

Interest Arbitration Awards – Would prohibit binding arbitration awards for increased wages pursuant to collective bargaining negotiations from exceeding the level increase reflected in the prevailing Consumer Price Index.

Several of the proposals have made it out of committee, and public hearings have been held on several others. With changes in the Governor’s mansion and the make-up of the legislature following the November 2018 elections, it is likely that some of these proposals will receive a more favorable response than in the past.

The Labor and Employment attorneys at Berchem Moses PC can help employers keep up to date on the legislative changes impacting the workplace and maintain compliance with any new obligations.