labor law guide
The Connecticut employment laws every business owner should know
Wages and breaks
The current minimum wage for tipped employees is $6.38.
The minimum wage for bartenders who receive tips is $8.23.
The Connecticut Department of Labor and state government require employers to pay non-exempt employees overtime at a rate of 1½ times their regular rate when their hours worked is more than 40 hours in a workweek.
The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum requirement for administrative, professional, and executive salary exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year. Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.
Employers are required to provide a meal period of at least 30 minutes to employees who have worked 7 ½ or more consecutive hours.
The break should be given some time after the first two hours and before the last two hours.
An employer may be exempt from providing the required break if:
Complying with this requirement would endanger public safety
The duties of the position can only be performed by one employee
The employer employs fewer than 5 employees on that shift at that one location (this only applies only to employees on that particular shift)
The employer’s operation requires that employees be available to respond to urgent conditions, and that the employees are compensated for the meal period
Connecticut does not require employers to provide rest breaks.
Final paychecks in Connecticut
Employees who have been terminated must be paid final wages by the next business day.
Employees who quit or separate from employment due to a labor dispute must be paid final wages by the next regular payday.
Connecticut child labor laws
Minors under the age of 18 may not work in these industries.
Minors 14 and 15 years of age may not work: during school hours, before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., more than 3 hours a day, or more than 18 hours a week.
Minors 16 and 17 years of age may not work:Before 6 a.m. and after 11 p.m., more than 6 hours a day, or more than 8 hours per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Most employers with 50 or more employees must provide paid sick leave to their service workers.
Service workers are classified as employees who work in one of these designated occupations, are paid hourly and are not exempt from the overtime compensation requirements.
Employers may also be required to provide unpaid sick leave under the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act and federal laws.
Under the recently signed Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act, employees at businesses with one or more staff members will be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child, a seriously ill relative by blood or marriage, or a close associate who is the equivalent of a family member.
Note: The Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Act will take effect on January 1, 2022. However, employers must begin taking pay deductions from employees starting January 1, 2021.
Employees dealing with their own serious health conditions or who are serving as a marrow or organ donor will also be eligible.
Employers in may be required to provide employees unpaid leave in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
Employers may establish a contract denying payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation of employment.
The contract may also disqualify employees from payment for vacation leave upon separation from employment if they are terminated or if they do not follow certain requirements such as giving two weeks notice.
The amount of vacation leave accrued over time may be capped in the policy.
Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays.
Employees must be paid for the first 5 days they spend on a jury unless the employer has been excused from paying the employee by the Chief Court Administrator.
Employees may not be penalized for responding to a jury summons.
An employer may not require an employee who has served 8 hours of jury duty in any one day to work more hours in that day.
Connecticut does not require employers to provide leave.
Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.
Employers that have at least three employees must provide leave to an employee who is a victim of family violence. The employee is entitled to up to 12 days to seek medical care or psychological or other counseling, to obtain services from a victim services organization, to relocate due to family violence, or to participate in any civil or criminal proceeding related to or resulting from family violence.
Connecticut prohibits employers, including the state and its political subdivisions, from discharging or discriminating against employees who are volunteer firefighters or members of volunteer ambulance companies because they are late for work as a result of responding to an emergency call or leave work during regular work hours to respond to one.
Employers may require a written statement signed by the head of the fire department or ambulance company, as applicable, informing the employer of the employee’s volunteer or first responder status.
Employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee because they take crime-victim leave. The employee may take leave to participate in a proceeding or police investigation.
Employers who have three or more employees cannot take any adverse action against an employee who appears as a witness in a criminal case.
Employers that have more than 25 employees must allow their employees to take leave if they are elected to a position in public office. An employee is entitled to leave for up to two consecutive terms of office.
The employer may require that the employee provide 30 days’ written notice after they are nominated for office. After their leave, the employee must be reinstated to their former job or a job with the same pay and other benefits, unless the employer’s circumstances have changed to much that it would be impossible or unreasonable to do so.
Employers must provide their employees who are members of the state armed forces with leave when they are called to duty. Employers may not reduce their pay or benefits, including promotions they would have been eligible for had they not taken the leave.
Employers subject to Connecticut Family and Medical Leave must allow an employee to take up to 26 workweeks during any 12-month period to care for their family member who was injured in the line of duty. The employee is only entitled to use the 26 weeks of leave once while they are employed.
Hiring and firing
Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.
Additionally, Connecticut prohibits discrimination based on the following: marital/civil union status, homeless status, wage garnishments; fewer than seven per year, smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of employment, credit report or credit information, or arrest records.
Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.
Connecticut is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action.
Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:
For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves.
For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.
For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination.
Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you:
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.
You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.
If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years.
Additional laws that may apply to you.
Background checks are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Connecticut requires that employers conduct background checks for the following types of employees: School personnel, school bus operators, childcare or day care personnel, foster care parents or other providers, casino employees, correctional personnel, those working for nursing homes, private detectives, and retailers of firearms.
Employers may not obtain a credit report on an applicant or employee unless: the employer is a financial institution, the report is required by law, the employer reasonably believes that the employee has committed a specific violation of law related to their employment, or the report is substantially related to the position or the employer has a bona fide purpose for requesting or using information in the credit report that is substantially job-related and the employer informs the applicant or employee in writing.
Employers are not allowed to ask about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial employment application.
Any form given to applicants later in the process that inquires about criminal history must contain a statement that the applicant is not required to disclose information about any records have been expunged/erased, a list of criminal records eligible to be expunged/erased, and a statement that an applicant with expunged/erased records will be treated as if the original arrest never happened and that they may swear to that under oath (meaning they can safely sign off on the application saying they have no history if the records have been expunged/erased).
It is illegal for employers to ask an applicant about their salary history or to direct a third party to make such inquiries (e.g., a background check provider). If an applicant volunteers their salary history, an employer may verify it, but employers should not in any way encourage candidates to disclose this information.
Employers may only test applicants for drugs if the comply with all the following requirements: The employer tells the applicant that they will require a drug test when they apply, the employer uses the same testing methods for the initial and second test as are required for employees (see below), and the employer gives them a copy of any positive test result.
When testing employees, employers must reasonably suspect that an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol that is or could negatively affect their job performance before requiring them to take a drug test. However, employers do not need a reasonable suspicion to conduct random drug testing under the following circumstances: They are authorized by federal law, the employee has a high-risk or safety-sensitive job (as determined by the Labor Commissioner), or the test is part of an employee assistance program and the employee voluntarily participates.
COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.”
Connecticut’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to 30 months. We recommend that employers inform an employee of their COBRA rights as soon as a triggering event occurs.
Employers may not discharge, discriminate, or retaliate against an employee for any of the following reasons:Because the employee exercised their First Amendment rights as long as it didn’t substantially interfere with their job performance, because the employee reported an alleged violation of law, because the employee participated in an investigation or proceeding, because the employee opposed, complained about, or participated in a proceeding regarding discrimination in employment, because the employee exercised their OSHA rights, including making a safety complaint and testifying in an OSHA proceeding, or because the employee opposed or participated in the investigation of sex-based pay discrimination.
If two employees do equal work on a job, the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, there are four conditions that may (legally) lead to a different pay rate: A seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential system based upon a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training or experience.
Employers may not request or require that an employee or applicant disclose any authentication means for accessing a personal online account, authenticate or access a personal online account in the employer’s presence, or invite the employer or accept an invitation from the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account.
Employers may not discharge, discipline, discriminate against, retaliate against, fail or refuse to hire, or otherwise penalize an individual who exercises their rights under this law.
Employers may request access to an employee’s personal social media if they’re conducting an investigation into that employee’s alleged misconduct and they have a reasonable belief that the employee’s personal social media activity is relevant to the investigation. Employers may also monitor, review, access, or block electronic data stored on an electronic communications devise paid for, in whole or on part, by the employer, or traveling through or stored on the employer’s network.
Employers may not monitor their employees by electronic surveillance in areas for their health or personal comfort or for safeguarding their possessions. Examples of these areas include restrooms, locker rooms, and lounges. Employers may not use any type of device to listen to or record negotiations about employment contracts, unless everyone consents. Employers must give their employees prior written notice if they use electronic monitoring.
Connecticut requires that all private employers create and publish a policy regarding the protection of employee Social Security Numbers (SSNs). The policy must protect the confidentiality of SSNs, prohibit unlawful disclosure of SSNs, and limit access to SSNs. The policy must be distributed to each employee in writing or displayed in conspicuous location.
Connecticut’s Time’s Up Act, passed in 2019, establishes new rules and requirements regarding sexual harassment training and education. The following applies to all employers with three or more employees:
Employers will be required to provide to a new employee a copy of information regarding the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims.
Employers must provide all existing employees with two hours of training by October 1, 2020.
Employers must provide two hours of training and education to new employees hired on or after October 1, 2019 within six months of their start date.
Employers with fewer than three employees must provide two hours of training and education to all existing supervisory employees by October 1, 2020 or within six months to new supervisory employees. A supervisor is defined as any individual who has the authority, by using her or his independent judgment, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances or effectively to recommend such actions.
Employers must provide periodic supplemental training not less than every ten years.
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View the resources available to Connecticut business owners and workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in our state-by-state COVID-19 Resource Center.
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This summary is not qualified legal advice. Laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros.