Labor and Employment Law Overview: Connecticut

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Connecticut law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Connecticut permits drug testing, but limits credit checks to certain positions. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Connecticut, there are many requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal and breastfeeding breaks, and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Connecticut has a number of laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, restrictions on wage deductions, and wage payment and notice requirements. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Connecticut law, employees are entitled to a number of leaves including family and medical leave, pregnancy disability leave, family violence leave, and time off for jury duty, and emergency and military service. See Attendance and Leave.
  • Connecticut law requires an employer to provide a safe working environment for their employees. See Health and Safety.
  • Connecticut employers with 100 or more employees must provide health insurance continuation after a plant closing or relocation. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Connecticut

Connecticut is generally considered an employee-friendly state.

Select Connecticut employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Connecticut requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act

The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) applies to most employers and contains an extensive list of protected classes against which an employer is prohibited from discriminating, including:

  • Race, color, ancestry and national origin;
  • Religion;
  • Pregnancy (including breastfeeding and related medical conditions);
  • Disability (physical, mental, intellectual and learning) and genetic information;
  • Age;
  • Gender (including transgender status, and gender identity and expression);
  • Sexual orientation; and
  • Marital or civil union status.

Harassment on the basis of these factors is also a form of illegal discrimination and is prohibited under the CFEPA.

The CFEPA also prohibits retaliation against a person who opposes, reports or assists another person in opposing unlawful discrimination.

Equal Pay Laws

Connecticut wage and hour laws prohibit an employer from discriminating on the basis of sex in the amount of compensation paid to any employee. An employer is also prohibited from retaliating against any employee who has opposed any discriminatory compensation practice, filed a complaint, or testified or assisted in any proceeding under the law.

Whistleblower Protection

Under Connecticut law, an employer may not penalize or take any adverse employment action against an employee for reporting the employer's violation or suspected violation of the law or for cooperating in an investigation, hearing or inquiry into alleged legal violations.

Homeless Person's Bill of Rights

Connecticut's Homeless Person's Bill of Rights specifically designates the homeless as a protected class for purposes of employment discrimination and harassment, and requires that all homeless persons are to be provided with equal opportunities for employment.

Smoking in the Workplace

Although Connecticut employers have the right to control and limit smoking in the workplace, Connecticut law prohibits employers from requiring as a condition of employment that prospective employees refrain from smoking or using tobacco products outside of work, or discriminating against smokers with respect to the terms and conditions of employment.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on discrimination, harassment and retaliation in Connecticut can be found in the Connecticut Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Connecticut, EEO - Discrimination: Connecticut, EEO - Harassment: Connecticut, EEO - Retaliation: Connecticut, Employee Discipline: Connecticut, Employee Communications: Connecticut, Connecticut Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Connecticut? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, Employee Discipline: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Connecticut requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Arrest and Conviction Records

Connecticut law prohibits an employer from requiring applicants to disclose certain arrest, charge or conviction records where such records were erased in certain circumstances.

Credit Checks

Connecticut law generally prohibits an employer from requiring an applicant to consent to a request for a credit report that contains information about his or her credit score, credit account balances, payment history, or savings or checking account balances or account numbers as a condition of employment.

Drug Testing

Under Connecticut law, drug and alcohol testing is generally permitted, subject to certain conditions. However, an employer may not refuse to hire a job applicant solely based on his or her status as a qualifying medical marijuana user.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Connecticut can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Connecticut. Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Connecticut requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Connecticut's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage. Currently, the state minimum wage is $9.60 per hour, with certain exceptions. This rate will increase to $10.10 per hour on January 1, 2017. Connecticut also establishes minimum requirements for employees who are not paid strictly on an hourly basis.

Overtime

Connecticut law generally requires an employer to pay covered employees overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. However, there are variations on the standard overtime formula in certain situations, such as where an employee has a fluctuating workweek or is paid by piece rates.

Meal Breaks

Connecticut law requires an employer to provide an unpaid meal period of at least 30 consecutive minutes to employees who work at least seven and a half consecutive hours. Such period is to be given at some time after the first two hours and before the last two hours of work unless certain exemptions apply (e.g., danger to public safety, less than five employees on a certain shift at one business location or the employee's position may only be performed by one person).

Breastfeeding Breaks

Under Connecticut law, an employer must allow an employee to breastfeed or express breast milk at work. An employer must also make a reasonable effort to provide a room or other location that:

  • Is close to the employee's work area;
  • Provides privacy to breastfeed or express breast milk; and
  • Is not a toilet stall.

However, an employer is not obligated to take any steps that would cause undue hardship.

Employers may not discriminate against or discipline an employee for taking advantage of her right to breastfeed or express breast milk at work.

Employers with more than 50 employees should comply with federal law, which provides greater protection to employees.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Connecticut restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are prohibited from working in hazardous occupations, and minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in a variety of other occupations, such as manufacturing and food service. Child labor laws also list many occupations in which minors are actively permitted to engage, such as agriculture and office work.

Connecticut also has a complex set of requirements that govern the times during which minors may work. These requirements differ depending on the age of the minor and the employer's industry, with separate working time restrictions set out for 16- and 17-year-olds and for 14- and 15-year-olds.

Minors who are 14 or 15 years of age may not work:

  • During school hours;
  • Before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m., except from July 1 to Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9:00 p.m.;
  • More than three hours per day on school days, or eight hours on non-school days; and
  • More than 18 hours a week during school weeks or 40 hours during non-school weeks.

Connecticut requires minors to have statement of age/working papers to work.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Connecticut can be found in the Connecticut Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Connecticut, Overtime: Connecticut, Hours Worked: Connecticut, Child Labor: Connecticut, Connecticut Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Connecticut? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Connecticut requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

Connecticut law requires an employer to pay employee wages within eight days of the end of the pay period unless a waiver is obtained from the Director of the Wage and Workplace Standards Division. If the pay period is changed, an employer must notify affected employees within 30 days.

Upon termination, Connecticut law provides that wages are due the next business day if the employee is discharged; or the next regular pay day if the employee is laid off, quits or is suspended as a result of a labor dispute.

Pay Statement Requirements

Connecticut employers are required to provide employees with a written record of certain pay-related information, including:

  • Hours worked;
  • Gross earnings, showing straight time and overtime as separate entries;
  • Itemized deductions; and
  • Net earnings.

Wage Deductions

Under Connecticut law, an employer may not withhold or divert employee wages except in strictly limited circumstances, including:

  • If the employer is required or empowered to do so by state or federal law (e.g., child support and creditor garnishment);
  • If the employer has written authorization from the employee to make the deductions on a form approved by the Labor Commissioner; and
  • For retirement plan contributions.

Health Care Continuation - Connecticut COBRA

Under Connecticut's continuation coverage law, an employer must offer continuation of health care coverage for up to 30 months to an employee and his or her covered dependents that lose coverage as a result of certain qualifying events, including:

  • Layoff;
  • Reduction of hours;
  • Leave of absence; and
  • Termination of employment (except for gross misconduct).

In certain circumstances, coverage may continue for up to 36 months.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefit practices in Connecticut can be found in Payment of Wages: Connecticut, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Connecticut and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Connecticut? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Key Connecticut requirements impacting attendance and leave are:

Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA)

The Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA) requires employers with 75 or more employees in the state to provide eligible employees with a total of 16 workweeks of job-protected leave during any 24-month period for qualifying reasons, including:

  • Birth of a child;
  • Adopting a child or taking in a foster child;
  • Caring for the serious health condition of a spouse, child or parent;
  • Caring for the employee's own serious health condition; and
  • Donating an organ or bone marrow.

Jury Duty

Connecticut law requires an employer to pay full-time employees their regular wages during the first five days of jury duty and prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee for performing jury duty.

Military Leave

Connecticut law provides that an employer must provide an unpaid leave of absence to an employee ordered to perform military duties in Connecticut's armed forces or any reserve component of the US Armed Forces. Connecticut's military leave law also prohibits an employer from reducing or revoking an employee's vacation or holiday privileges, or taking actions that would adversely impact an employee's chance of promotion, continued employment or reemployment, because of military duty leave.

Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Service Members Leave

Connecticut employers may not terminate a volunteer firefighter or ambulance service member because he or she is either late for, or unable to attend work, as a result of providing emergency services. An employer may, however, request that an employee provide documentation for their lateness to, or absence from, work that is related to providing emergency services.

Other Leave Laws Affecting Connecticut Employers

Most Connecticut employers are also required to comply with several other leave laws, including:

  • Pregnancy disability leave (three or more employees);
  • Paid sick leave (50 or more employees; applies to certain service workers, such as retail workers, fast food workers or day care workers);
  • Victims of family violence leave (three or more employees); and
  • Crime victim leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Connecticut can be found in the Connecticut Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Connecticut, Jury Duty: Connecticut, Other Leaves: Connecticut, USERRA: Connecticut, Connecticut Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Connecticut? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Connecticut requirements impacting health and safety are:

Clean Indoor Air Act

Connecticut's Clean Indoor Air Act provides that an employer with five or more employees must prohibit smoking in the workplace. However, a smoking room may be provided. An employer with five or fewer employees must provide a nonsmoking work area at the request of an employee.

Safety and Health Committees

Under Connecticut law, all employers employing 25 or more employees, as well as those workplaces with a higher than average incidence rate of injury or illnesses, are required to create workplace safety and health committees.

Additional information on health and safety requirements in Connecticut can be found in the Connecticut Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: Connecticut, HR and Workplace Safety: Connecticut, Connecticut Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Connecticut? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal, and HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

Connecticut's plant closing law applies to all industrial, commercial or business entities that operate within the state and employ 100 or more individuals in a 12-month period. Connecticut law requires that, in addition to complying with federal WARN Act requirements, when a covered employer closes or relocates a covered facility in the state, the employer is obligated to pay for continuation of existing group health insurance for each affected employee, and his or her dependents, for 120 days from the date of closing or relocation, or until the employee becomes eligible for group coverage with another employer, whichever occurs first.

COBRA coverage is not affected by this statute, and employees who choose to continue their employment at another location are not eligible. Moreover, if a collective bargaining agreement requiring continuation of group health insurance for affected employees exists, it is controlling and supersedes these requirements.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Connecticut can be found in the Involuntary Terminations: Connecticut and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Connecticut? Federal requirements can be found in Involuntary Terminations: Federal.