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. Employers must also provide pregnancy accommodations, allow employees to access their personnel files, protect whistleblowers and allow wage discussions. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Connecticut permits preemployment drug testing, but generally limits criminal and credit checks. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Connecticut, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal breaks, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Connecticut has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, payment of wages, pay frequency, pay statements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Connecticut law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including family and medical leave, paid sick leave, pregnancy disability leave, family violence leave and military leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Connecticut prohibits smoking in the workplace and using a handheld cell phone while driving. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Connecticut employers must comply with applicable final pay and mass layoff notification requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Connecticut

Connecticut has many laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including pregnancy accommodation rights, a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as overtime pay, jury duty leave and military leave.

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:

Fair Employment Practices

The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) prohibits employers with three or more employees from discriminating on the basis of protected characteristics, including:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Ancestry;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Pregnancy (including breastfeeding and related medical conditions);
  • Disability (physical, mental, intellectual and learning);
  • 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

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.

Discussion of Wages

Connecticut's Act Concerning Pay Equity and Fairness prohibits an employer from terminating, disciplining, discriminating against, retaliating against or otherwise penalizing an employee who inquires about a co-worker's wages or who discloses or discusses the amount of his or her wages or the wages of a co-worker that have been disclosed voluntarily. The Act also prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to sign a waiver or other document denying the employee of the right to inquire about, disclose or discuss wages. The Act does not require that an employer disclose any wage information to an employee.

Pregnancy Accommodation

Under the CFEPA, an employer with three or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to an employee or applicant due to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition (including lactation). Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Being permitted to sit while working;
  • More frequent or longer breaks or periodic rest;
  • Assistance with manual labor;
  • Light-duty assignments;
  • Job restructuring;
  • Modified work schedules;
  • Temporary transfers to less-strenuous or less-hazardous work;
  • Time off to recover from childbirth; or
  • Break time and ppropriate facilities for expressing breast milk.

Access to Personnel Files

Under Connecticut's Personnel Files Act, employees may inspect their personnel files up to two times per calendar year. The employer must provide access to current employees within seven business days and to former employees within 10 business days.

The place of inspection may vary, but is generally at the employer's place of business or a location reasonably nearby. An employer and a former employee should meet at a "mutually agreed upon" location; otherwise, the employer must mail a copy of the file within 10 days after receiving the former employee's written request.

The Personnel Files Act requires employers to maintain personnel and medical records separately. Upon written request, the employer must disclose an employee's medical records to the employee's physician or to a physician chosen by the employer with the employee's consent.

An employee has the right to have information it believes is inaccurate be removed or amended, or else have his or her statement explaining or disputing the information included in the file.

Whistleblower Protections

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.

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 EEO, diversity and employee relations practices 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, HR Management: 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 HR Management: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Connecticut requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Criminal Checks

Connecticut law prohibits an employer from denying employment or otherwise discriminating against any applicant based on a prior arrest, criminal charge or conviction if the records were erased. Subject to specific exceptions, an employer is also prohibited from requiring applicants to disclose any arrest, criminal charge or conviction if the recordh as been erased.

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 if the employer provides written notice of its intent to test, uses a reliable testing methodology and confirms any positive test with a reliable methodology.

Ban the Box

Connecticut employers may not ask about a prospective employee's prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial job application. Exceptions apply if the job requires a security bond or if a federal or state law requires an employer to make a criminal history inquiry.

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 and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in 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 $10.10 per hour, with certain exceptions. 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. The meal period must be given 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, fewer 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 during meal or break periods. 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.

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

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 nonschool days; and
  • More than 18 hours a week during school weeks or 40 hours during nonschool 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

Employees must be paid in cash or by negotiable check. Payment by direct deposit or electronic paycard is allowed provided certain requirements are met.

Pay Frequency

Employers must pay employees weekly or biweekly on regular paydays designated in advance by the employer. Employers are permitted to pay employees on a basis other than weekly or biweekly if they first obtain a waiver from the state Department of Labor. Paydays must occur within eight days after the end of the pay period.

If the regular payday falls on a nonworkday, payment must be made on the preceding workday.

Pay Statements

With each payment of wages, 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 is required to do so by another state's incoming tax withholding law for employees working or living in the other state;
  • If the employer has written authorization from the employee; and
  • For retirement plan contributions.

Health Care Continuation

Under Connecticut COBRA, 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 benefits 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.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Key Connecticut requirements impacting time off and leaves of absence are:

Family and Medical Leave

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:

  • The birth, adoption or placement for foster care of a child;
  • To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition;
  • For the employee's own serious health condition;
  • To donate an organ or bone marrow;
  • For a qualifying exigency due to a parent, child or spouse on or called to active duty; and
  • For military caregiver leave, if the employee is the parent, child, spouse or next of kin of a servicemember who has sustained a serious injury or illness in the line of duty.

An employer with 50 or more employees in the state must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to certain hourly service workers. Leave may be used for the following reasons:

  • The employee's, a spouse's or a child's illness, injury or health condition; need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment; need for preventative care; and
  • If the employee is a victim of family violence or sexual assault.

Other Time Off Requirements Affecting Connecticut Employers

In addition to the CFMLA and paid sick leave law, a Connecticut employer is also required to comply with other leave and time off laws, such as:

  • Military leave;
  • Emergency responder leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Crime victim leave;
  • Victims of family violence leave (covering employers with three or more employees);
  • Municipal or state office leave (covering employers with 26 or more employees);
  • Legislative leave (covering employers with 25 or more employees); and
  • Pregnancy disability leave (covering employers with three or more employees).

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 time off and leave of absence 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:

Smoke-Free Workplace

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

Safe Driving Practices

Connecticut prohibits all drivers from using handheld cell phones, including texting, while operating a vehicle.

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 health and safety practices 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

Key Connecticut requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Upon termination, wages are due the next business day if the employee is terminated, or the next regular pay day if the employee is laid off, quits or is suspended as a result of a labor dispute.

Wages owed to a deceased employee generally must be paid to the surviving spouse or conservator of the estate.

Mass Layoff Notifications

The Connecticut WARN Act applies to all industrial, commercial or business entities that operate within the state and employ 100 or more individuals in a 12-month period. When a covered employer closes or relocates a covered facility out of the state, it must 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. Written notification should be sent to the Connecticut Department of Labor.

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 Payment of Wages: Connecticut, Involuntary Terminations: Connecticut and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Connecticut? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary Terminations: Federal.