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Time Off for Mental Health Wellness Days Are Coming Soon to Connecticut

16 Aug


Update Applicable to:

The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees and provides paid sick leave only to non-exempt “service workers,” who consist of employees primarily engaged in a variety of defined occupations under the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system.

What happened?

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed a law on June 26, 2023, that expands the use of state-mandated paid sick leave for service workers.

What are the details?

The new law introduces two changes to the existing Connecticut paid sick leave law, allowing covered employees to use sick time for a “mental health wellness day” and enabling parents or guardians to use sick time for a child who is a victim of family violence or sexual assault. These changes will take effect on October 1, 2023.

Definition of Service Worker

“Service worker” is defined as an hourly nonexempt employee who is primarily engaged in one of the following occupational areas: Hospitality, Healthcare, Retail, Administrative Support, Food Preparation, Personal Transportation, and Health & Beauty. A full list of occupations is available under the Service Workers definition of Public Act No. 11-52 here: Link.

Background on Connecticut Paid Sick Leave Law:

Connecticut was among the first jurisdictions to adopt a sick leave law in 2012, but it remains limited in scope. Service workers accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked and may use up to 40 hours per year.

New Reasons for Use of Sick Time:

Effective October 1, 2023, the newly signed bill, Senate Bill No. 2, expands the reasons for use of sick time in two circumstances. The first significant change allows service workers to use sick time for a “mental health wellness day.” This term is defined as “a day during which a service worker attends to such worker’s emotional and psychological well-being instead of attending a regularly scheduled shift.” Connecticut is the first state to explicitly include mental health wellness days as a covered reason for paid sick leave use.

The second expansion permits service workers to use paid sick leave when they are the parent or guardian of a child who is a victim of family violence or sexual assault. This coverage extends to medical care, psychological counseling, services from victim organizations, relocation, and participation in legal proceedings related to family violence or sexual assault.

Legislative Efforts and Employer Actions:

The enactment of this law follows recent efforts by the Connecticut legislature to make paid sick leave available to more workers and expand the covered reasons for sick leave use. Although two competing bills did not pass, employers should stay informed as lawmakers may revive these bills or propose other actions to expand sick leave in the future legislative session.

For more information, please see the links below:

Senate Bill 2 (Public Act No. 23-101)

What do employers need to do?

Applicable employers in Connecticut should prepare for the expanded uses of paid sick leave under the new law. This includes revising sick leave policies and practices and informing employees about the updated reasons for using sick leave. Further guidance and regulations may come from the Connecticut Department of Labor, and employers can expect an updated Paid Sick Leave poster with the expanded reasons for use in the coming months, which will likely be available here: Link.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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