Employment laws promote business success and establish legal protections for employees. Complying with labor legislation is vital: violations can lead to severe consequences, including fines, reputational damage, and even imprisonment. In the US, a mix of federal and state employment laws exist, with varying demands employers need to follow.
Connecticut law provides a broader range of protections for employees than its federal counterpart. For example, Connecticut’s anti-discrimination policies apply to workers of all ages rather than just those 40 and above, as stated under US federal law. If you’re hiring in the Constitution State, you’ll want to be aware of this and all the other local nuances related to employment laws.
Want to ensure you’re in compliance with the state of Connecticut’s strict regulations? Scale your business faster by letting Rippling’s Professional Employer Organization service handle your tax registration and management.
Employment vs. labor law: What’s the difference?
Most people use the terms “employment law” and “labor law” interchangeably, but they actually refer to different things. The former refers to legal issues that concern an employer and an individual, while the latter refers to matters between an employer and a group of people, like a labor union.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what employment and labor laws each encompass:
- Employment law covers issues like wages, overtime, hours, workplace discrimination, hiring practices, sexual harassment, and workplace safety.
- Labor law is a section of employment law and includes topics like union dues, union membership, and collective bargaining agreements.
Wages and hours in Connecticut
When it comes to paying employees in Connecticut, employers must comply with strict legal regulations that are focused on fairness and pay transparency. Below, we’ll discuss minimum wage, overtime, and Connecticut’s two different bills on pay transparency, so you don’t miss a beat.
Minimum wage in Connecticut
As of June 1, 2023, Connecticut’s minimum wage is $15.00 per hour for all employers. This is almost double the federal hourly minimum rate. The only employees who do not have to receive the $15.00 per hour minimum wage are those who are exempt under federal or state law, such as seasonal workers, individuals who work in domestic service, federal employees, employees of camps or resorts that are open six months out of the year or less, or employees who work in an executive or administrative capacity. (Please note that this list is not exhaustive.)
For non-exempt employees, the state of Connecticut requires that $15.00 per hour be paid to each worker regardless of company size or location in the state. Connecticut minimum wage requirements do not differ from city to city, like California requirements do.
When finalizing hourly wages for employees, Rippling automatically notes minimum wage violations based on local regulations where employees live. This is especially useful for ensuring compliance in Connecticut, where the minimum wage is higher than the federal.
Overtime pay in Connecticut
At times, it’s necessary to have employees work outside of their typical hours to complete time-intensive projects. When this occurs, Connecticut follows both the overtime regulations set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its own state laws. Mainly, the state requires employers to pay 1.5x the employee’s regular rate for all hours worked over the regular 40-hour workweek.
To ensure you remain in compliance with Connecticut’s overtime pay laws, Rippling’s payroll software automatically applies the correct pay rates when an employee’s hours trigger overtime pay requirements.
Pay transparency in Connecticut
Pay transparency has become a hot topic in the US over the last several years. Aimed at increasing trust, boosting productivity, and closing the gender pay gap, pay transparency has garnered widespread support in many states. As of 2021, Connecticut joined the ranks of states that require employers to disclose the salary ranges for jobs to applicants and employees when HB Number 6380 was signed into law.
Specifically, HB Number 6380, “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position,” makes it unlawful for employers to withhold information about the wage range for a position when an applicant or employee asks for it, prior to hiring an employee, when an employee changes jobs at the company, or at the time an offer of work is made to a job applicant.
Earlier this year, the state of Connecticut also introduced Proposal HB Number 5243, which would require employees to include the salary range in all job postings.
Rippling enforces compensation bands during onboarding and flags out-of-band adjustments, so you can approve special cases and block others as needed.
Breaks and rest periods in Connecticut
Surprisingly, the FLSA doesn't require employers to give workers time to eat meals or take a brief rest. However, depending on the state, that isn’t always the case. Indeed, the Connecticut Department of Labor mandates meal periods and rest breaks for employees.
Employers in the state of Connecticut must provide the following:
- A minimum of 30 minutes for an unpaid meal break for employees who work 7.5 or more consecutive hours
- 30 minutes of paid time for a rest break (you can break up the 30 minutes into two 15-minute chunks or smaller increments)
You are not required to provide any other breaks under state law, and employees who work fewer than 7.5 consecutive hours are not entitled to any breaks, paid or not. Additionally, you should be aware that state law may be superseded by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or by a written agreement between an employer and employee.
Leaves of absence in Connecticut
Sometimes, employees find themselves dealing with a serious health condition, acting as a caregiver for a loved one, or needing time to recover from an illness. In these situations, work often needs to take a back seat. This is why the US Department of Labor has protections in place to safeguard employees’ jobs until they’re able to return to work.
The state of Connecticut passed the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA) to protect employees while they’re absent, and CT Paid Leave to provide eligible workers with income replacement. All employers with one or more employees are required to participate in both of these programs.
To be eligible for CT FMLA, an employee must have been working for their employer for a minimum of three months immediately preceding their application to take leave.
As long as they are eligible, an employee may take:
- Protected leave for up to 12 work weeks in a 12-month period for any qualifying reason
- Two more weeks for a serious health condition that developed during pregnancy and that has resulted in incapacitation (sometimes referred to as “pregnancy disability”)
- Up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period to care for a family member who is a member of the armed forces and sustained a serious injury or illness in the line of duty
According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, “qualifying reasons” include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Needing to care for a family member with a serious health condition
- Birthing a child and caring for that child in the first year after their birth
- Developing a serious health condition
- Serving as an organ or bone marrow donor
- Developing a serious health condition that results in a disability while pregnant
All employees—regardless of whether they work full- or part-time—qualify for CT Paid Leave if:
- They earned a minimum of $2,325 in the highest-earning quarter of the first four of the five most recent quarters they worked for the company.
- They are currently employed by a company that enrolled in CT Paid Leave in the state of Connecticut or worked for such a company in the 12 weeks immediately preceding their CT Paid Leave application.
Employees do not need to live in the State of Connecticut to be eligible for this benefit; they must simply meet the two criteria above.
Paid sick leave in Connecticut
Under Connecticut state law, eligible employees earn one hour of paid sick leave (PSL) for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 total hours of PSL each year. Employees can use this time to recover from a physical injury or an illness, go to the doctor, or care for a sick family member.
As of this year, the Connecticut paid sick leave law has been updated to include two new reasons employees can take a day off. Workers can now legally take a mental wellness day and use sick leave if they are involved in a family violence situation or a sexual assault. More specifically, employees whose family members were assaulted can use their leave, as can those individuals who need to seek counseling or medical treatment for physical or psychological injury sustained during an assault.
Rippling allows you to automate and customize your leave policy, giving you full visibility into how employees are using their time off.
Workplace safety in Connecticut
Under US federal law, employers are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace that is free of hazards for employees. Some common steps companies take to remain in compliance with workplace safety laws include providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers, training employees on proper safety procedures, and ensuring the workplace is up to the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA’s) standards.
In addition to federal regulations, Connecticut has strict state laws. The Connecticut Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CONN-OSHA) is responsible for the enforcement of these laws. They inspect workplaces, follow up on reports of workplace safety violations, and offer consulting to Connecticut employers to help them comply with safety laws and identify potential hazards. They also offer voluntary programs to minimize the amount of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the workplace.
Rippling PEO offers a convenient pay-as-you-go workers’ comp plan that doesn’t require you to pay upfront for the whole year, so you can scale your business stress-free in Connecticut and anywhere else in the US.
Discrimination and harassment laws in Connecticut
Connecticut takes discrimination and harassment in the workplace seriously and offers comprehensive legal protections under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA). This piece of legislation prohibits discrimination due to a broad range of factors, including:
- Sexual orientation
- Skin color
- Gender identity or expression
- National origin
- Marital status
- Past or present history of a mental, intellectual, learning, or physical disability
- Genetic information
- Pregnancy status
- Veteran status
- Status as a domestic violence survivor
As of 2022, CFEPA has been expanded to include any employer with one or more employees (previously, it applied to employers with three or more workers). Employers are responsible for complying with CFEPA throughout the employment relationship, from posting the job description to hiring, paying, making decisions about promotions and terminations, and more.
In addition to CFEPA, Connecticut age-related anti-discrimination laws go further than federal regulations and protect employees under and over the age of 40. Furthermore, employers must also comply with the Creating an Open and Respectful World for Natural Hair Act that expands the definition of “race” to include hair textures and styles.
Harassment is considered to be a form of discrimination in Connecticut. Harassment is any form of unwelcome behavior that is based on a protected characteristic, like an employee’s sex, age, or race, with the intention to demean, upset, or threaten them. Some examples of workplace harassment include offensive jokes or insults, verbal or written threats, racial or sexual slurs, and physical or sexual assaults. As an employer, you are not only liable for discriminatory practices and harassment you might commit as an employer; you are also legally responsible for the words and actions of your employees (even if you were unaware of any harassment happening).
Sexual harassment training requirements vary by state. In Connecticut, employers are legally required to comply with the Time’s Up Act, which mandates three hours of sexual harassment training be given to all employees if the employer has three or more workers. Two hours of sexual harassment training must be given to all supervisors (regardless of company size). Rippling’s Learning Management System is pre-loaded with core sexual harassment training courses to ensure each employee meets the state requirements based on where they live.
Unions in Connecticut
A labor union, sometimes called a trade union or just a union, is a group of two or more employees who join together to maintain or improve their working conditions. Common issues for unions include obtaining fair wages, increasing the amount of time off they receive, and strengthening job security. Union delegates engage in collective bargaining with employers to negotiate contracts and agree on regulations, benefits, work hours, and more.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 cemented the rights of workers to collectively bargain with employers to improve their working conditions without fear of retaliation. Under this act, employees can:
- Organize a union or join one
- Bargain collectively with employers and select their own representatives to take on negotiations on their behalf
- Discuss their working conditions with coworkers
- Take action to improve their employment conditions by seeking assistance from a union or by filing a formal compliant with either the company or the government
- Strike and picket
- Abstain from joining a union
It is illegal for employers and unions alike to take any coercive actions against employees. A union cannot, for instance, threaten employees with job loss if they don’t support its actions, and employers cannot prohibit, terminate, demote, or take any other actions that interfere with an employee’s free choice to join a union.
In addition to federal regulations, there is state-level, union-related legislation. This includes “right-to-work” laws, which give the state the authority to determine whether it’s mandatory for employees to join a union in order to get or keep a job. Connecticut is not a right-to-work state, which means employees can freely choose whether or not they want to join a labor union.
FAQs about Connecticut labor and employment laws
Are independent contractors covered under Connecticut employment laws?
Unfortunately, Connecticut employment law doesn’t specifically mention independent contractors. Our analyzer tool can help you ensure you’re classifying workers correctly and complying with employment regulations.
Does at-will employment exist in Connecticut?
Yes. Connecticut is an at-will employment state. As such, employers can terminate employees at any time without providing a reason and employees can quit at any time without notice.
What privacy rights do employees have in Connecticut?
Employers in the state of Connecticut are limited in their ability to monitor employees in the workplace and disclose employees’ personal information. Employees have the right to inspect and copy their personal records. Furthermore, employers cannot require employees to consent to providing a credit report as a condition of employment, nor can they require workers to undergo genetic testing. There are also limitations on drug testing in the workplace.
It’s important to note that the recently passed Connecticut Data Privacy Act (CTDPA) is a consumer privacy protection law, not a law that safeguards employees.
Are background checks legal in Connecticut?
Yes. Employers in Connecticut are legally permitted to run background checks on job candidates and employees. However, there are some restrictions around what you’re allowed to ask. In 2017, Connecticut passed its version of the so-called “ban the box” laws preventing employers from asking most job applicants about their prior arrests, criminal charges, and convictions on job applications. In 2023, this law was updated to include criminal record history information that has been expunged or erased.
Additionally, employers are prohibited from requiring applicants to complete a credit check as a condition of employment.
Are whistleblowers protected in Connecticut?
Yes. Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 31-51m is a sweeping piece of legislation that shields whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers for reporting the violation or suspected violation of any federal, state, local, or municipal laws. There are even laws in Connecticut, such as the Connecticut False Claims Act, that entitle whistleblowers who report specific violations— such as filing false Medicaid claims—to financial compensation in the event of retaliation.
Is workers’ compensation coverage required in Connecticut?
Yes. Under state law, employers with one or more workers, regardless of whether they are a full- or part-time employee or an independent contractor, must purchase workers’ compensation coverage.
Are there required healthcare benefits in Connecticut?
Under federal law, employers with 50 or more full-time employees are mandated to provide health insurance benefits. Connecticut does not have any additional state laws in place, and it does not require employers with less than 50 employees to provide healthcare.
Are Connecticut employers required to provide bereavement leave?
No, there is no Connecticut state law that mandates employers provide bereavement leave, either paid or unpaid.
What employee protections are available in Connecticut if layoffs occur?
Employers who are covered by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, must give employees 60 days’ notice before laying them off. This is true in Connecticut and anywhere else in the US. Additionally, you must comply with the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), which stipulates that employees over the age of 40 be given at least 45 days to review the terms of severance agreements in the event of a layoff.
Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.