Other Leaves: Connecticut
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Jessica Sussman
- There are various types of leave that may be available to an employee in Connecticut. See Leaves of Absence.
- An employer must provide eligible employees with 16 weeks of family and medical leave in a two-year period. See Family and Medical Leave.
- A covered employer must provide paid sick leave to certain hourly service workers. See Paid Sick Leave.
- An eligible employee may take an unpaid leave of absence to comply with a legal subpoena to appear before any Connecticut state court as a witness in any criminal proceeding or to attend a court proceeding or participate in a police investigation related to a criminal case in which the employee is a crime victim. See Crime Victim Leave.
- A covered employer must provide eligible employees with up to 12 days of paid or unpaid leave during any calendar year in which the leave is reasonably necessary to do things like seek medical care or counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability. See Family Violence Victim Leave.
- An employer is required to pay full-time employees their regular wages for the first five days of jury duty. See Jury Duty Leave.
- A covered employer may not terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee who is absent from work to perform duties as a candidate, member-elect or member of the General Assembly. See Legislative Leave.
- A covered employer is required to provide a personal leave of absence for not more than two consecutive terms of office to an employee who accepts a full-time elective municipal or state office. See Elected Official Leave.
- An employer may not terminate an employee who is an active volunteer firefighter or a volunteer ambulance service member because the employee arrives late to work or is absent from work because, for example, the employee responded to a fire during the employee's regular hours of employment. See Emergency Responder Leave.
- A Connecticut private employer is not required to provide their employees with vacation time. See Vacation Time.
Leaves of Absence
There are various types of leave that may be available to an employee in Connecticut. To the extent that applicable federal, state or local laws conflict, an employer should apply the provisions that provide the greatest benefits and protections to the employee.
An employer should remain alert to the various types of leave available and take care to track employees' leaves of absence, including:
- The date the leave begins;
- The type of leave; and
- The expected return date.
An employee who exercises leave rights is not protected from discipline for legitimate reasons that are unrelated to the leave and that are not otherwise prohibited by law.
If an employer must discipline an employee who has exercised his or her leave rights, it should carefully document the reasons for the discipline, review past application of the rule (to ensure the policy is being enforced evenhandedly), and consider whether to seek the advice of counsel before imposing the discipline.
Employers should note that leave required by a state or local law is not taken into account when determining the amount of leave provided by an employer for federal tax credit purposes under the federal tax reform law.
Family and Medical Leave
A Connecticut employer with 75 or more employees working in Connecticut is covered by the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA) and must provide eligible employees with up to 16 workweeks of unpaid leave within a 24-month period. Some of the qualifying reasons for leave include adoption leave, bone marrow and organ donor leave. For more information on family and medical leave, please see FMLA: Connecticut.
Pregnancy Disability Leave and Accommodation
It is an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer with three or more employees (or an employer's agent) to refuse to grant a pregnant employee a reasonable leave of absence for disability resulting from pregnancy. Time off to recover from childbirth may be considered a reasonable accommodation. However, an employee may not be required to take leave if a reasonable accommodation can be provided instead. For more information on pregnancy disability leave and accommodation, please see Disabilities (ADA): Connecticut.
Paid Sick Leave
Connecticut requires employers with 50 or more employees (full-time and/or part-time employees working in Connecticut) to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to certain hourly service workers. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57s.
An employer with 50 or more full-time and/or part-time employees working in Connecticut must comply with Connecticut's paid sick leave law. The 50-employee threshold is determined annually based on the number of employees on the payroll as of October 1.
Certain manufacturers (business establishments classified in sector 31, 32 or 33 in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)) or nationally chartered 501(c)(3) organizations that provide recreation, child care and educational services are exempted from complying with this law. The manufacturer exemption extends to all forms of manufacturing, including food, textiles, wood, petroleum, chemical, plastics, metal, machinery, motor vehicles, aerospace, computer, electronic and miscellaneous products.
The manufacturing exclusion may only extend to sites where the manufacturing operations are conducted - not at all sites - such as those that function as a warehouse or research and development site. An employer should assess each establishment separately to determine if its primary business activity falls within sector 31, 32 or 33. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57r(4).
An employer may not terminate or transfer any employee from one worksite to another solely to avoid qualifying as a covered employer under the law.
A covered employer should consider including a paid sick leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of paid sick leave and to show its compliance with Connecticut law.
Individuals eligible for paid sick leave include certain service workers who are paid on an hourly basis or are not exempt from the minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). More specifically, service workers are employees whose primary job duties track those of the federal Standard Occupational Classification System titles listed in the law (e.g., food service managers, dental assistants, fast food workers, medical assistants, waiters, child care workers, data entry and information processing workers, retail salespersons and radiologic technologists).
An employer should review the law and the broad and detailed occupations and descriptions provided on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website to determine if the employee's primary job duties (as opposed to a specific job title) fall within the job classifications listed in the law. Some job titles are obvious - such as cashier - but employers should never assume that they do or do not employ service workers without a careful review of the law and the BLS website.
If a service worker does several jobs, the employer should use the classification that describes the work the service worker is primarily engaged in.
The following employees are not eligible for paid sick leave:
- Employees properly classified as exempt under the FLSA; and
- Temporary or day workers, defined as those who perform work on a per diem basis or an occasional or irregular basis, for only the time required to complete such work, whether they are paid by the person for whom such work is performed by or a temporary help service or employment agency.
+Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57r(2); +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57r(7). Before deeming an employee ineligible for leave, employers should carefully review the facts of each case (e.g., what is the service worker's assignment, length of the assignment, duties; can the employee accept or refuse work at-will).
Qualifying Reasons for Leave
A service worker may use paid sick leave for his or her own, a spouse's (including a same-sex spouse or out-of-state civil union or domestic partner) or a child's:
- Illness, injury or health condition;
- Medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; and
- Preventative medical care.
Employees may also use paid sick leave when he or she is the victim of family violence or sexual assault and needs time off to:
- Receive medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability;
- Receive services from a victim services organization;
- Relocate; or
- Take part in a civil or criminal proceeding related to or resulting from the family violence or sexual assault.
+Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57t(a)(3). Guidance from the Connecticut Department of Labor states that paid sick leave taken for reasons related to family violence may not run concurrently with leave taken under the family violence statute. See Family Violence Victim Leave.
Accrual and Use of Leave
Accrual. Every year, employers must provide paid sick leave to each of its eligible service workers in Connecticut. Employees begin accruing leave on their first day of employment. Leave accrues at a rate of one hour for each 40 hours worked (must be actual hours worked and not sick, vacation or other leave time), in one-hour increments, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year. A year means any 365-day period used by an employer to calculate employee benefits.
Use. Employees also may not begin to use their accrued paid sick leave until the employee completes 680 hours of employment. Once an employee reaches the 680-hour threshold, however, he or she need not meet it again even if the employee terminates employment and is rehired at a later time. An employer may agree to permit employees to use accrued time prior to the completion of 680 hours.
Eligible employees seeking to take leave may not do so if they did not work an average of 10 or more hours per week in the most recently completed quarter (e.g., some part-time employees will be eligible).
Employers may allow a service worker to donate his or her unused accrued paid sick leave to another service worker. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57u.
Upon mutual agreement, an employee may work additional hours or swap shifts in lieu of using paid sick time. An employer may not require the employee to do so.
Carryover. Employees may carry over up to a maximum of 40 accrued but unused hours to the next year, regardless of the number of hours they have accumulated. However, employees may not use more than 40 hours per year.
The 40 hours of sick leave must be paid at a rate equal to the employee's normal hourly rate or the Connecticut minimum wage, if higher. If the service worker's hourly wage varies based on his or her duties, the normal hourly wage is the average hourly wage paid to the employee in the pay period prior to the leave.
Changes in Employment
An employer is not obligated to pay accrued sick leave benefits upon an employee's termination unless the employer provides for such payment in its policies or in a collective bargaining agreement. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57s.
Employee Notice Requirements
An employer may require eligible service workers to give up to seven days' notice before taking leave if the leave is foreseeable (e.g., expected court date). If the leave is not foreseeable (e.g., a medical emergency), the employee must give notice as soon as practicable. An employer may be allowed to deny leave or take disciplinary action if the employee failed to provide proper notice. An employer should include call-in requirements and other notice requirements in their paid sick leave handbook policy. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-57t(b).
Employee Documentation Requirements
An employer is permitted to request documentation for leaves lasting three or more consecutive workdays. For leaves related to mental or physical illness, treatment of an illness and preventative care, an employer can require documentation signed by the health care provider treating the service worker or his or her child or spouse. Such documentation should indicate the need for the leave and the number of days needed.
With respect to victims of family violence or sexual assault, an employer can request a court record or documentation signed by the service worker or volunteer working for a victim services organization, an attorney, police officer or other counselor involved with the service worker.
Employer Notice and Posting Requirements
An employer must provide notice, at the time of hiring, regarding the entitlement to sick leave, and to specifically advise eligible employees that employers may not retaliate against them. An employer may comply with their notice obligations by posting a notice in English and Spanish in a conspicuous location incorporating these requirements.
An employer may not retaliate or otherwise discriminate against employees because the employee requests or uses paid sick leave or files a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Labor regarding leave under the law. This retaliation piece is not limited to service workers - it is applicable to all employees.
An employer can discipline a service worker who takes leave for reasons not covered by the law.
Enforcement and Penalties
Violations of the paid sick leave law may result in civil penalties of $500 for a violation of the retaliation and discrimination provisions, and a civil penalty of $100 for each violation of the substantive provisions (or notice provision) of the law. The Labor Commissioner is also empowered to require an offending employer to rehire or reinstate an employee and to pay back wages and benefits.
Interaction With Other Laws and Policies
An employer is considered to have complied with the paid sick leave law if it offers any other paid time off (PTO), such as vacation or personal days, as long as service workers can use the leave for the same reasons set forth in the law and the leave accrues at a rate equal to or greater than the rate described above. An employer should carefully review its PTO, vacation and personal leave policies to ensure they comply with the paid sick leave law's requirements (e.g., do not exclude part-time service workers, do not impose greater documentation requirements).
Leave under this law may run at the same time as leave available under another federal state or local law, provided eligibility requirements for that law are met.
Key Action Steps
To help ensure compliance with Connecticut's paid sick leave law:
- Review and revise, if necessary, paid sick leave, PTO and other related Connecticut handbook policies and procedures to ensure they meet the law's requirements;
- Post the required notice and provide written notification to employees;
- Ensure timekeeping, payroll and benefits systems properly calculate, track and detail accrued and used paid sick leave. If a third-party payroll processor is used, ensure it is aware of and complies with the law's requirements; and
- Train supervisory and managerial employees, as well as HR and payroll personnel, on the law's requirements.
Crime Victim Leave
An eligible employee may take an unpaid leave of absence to comply with a legal subpoena to appear before any Connecticut state court as a witness in any criminal proceeding or to attend a court proceeding or participate in a police investigation related to a criminal case in which the employee is a crime victim. +Conn. Gen. Stat § 54-85b.
If an employee is the parent, spouse, child or sibling of a victim of homicide, or as a person designated by the victim to exercise the victim's rights, he or she must be allowed time off to attend court proceedings with respect to the criminal case of the person charged with committing the crime that resulted in the victim's death. +Conn. Gen. Stat § 54-85d.
An employee is eligible for leave if the employee:
- Is a victim (suffers direct or threatened physical, emotional or financial harm as a result of a crime; or
- Is an immediate family member or guardian of a crime victim who is a minor, physically disabled, incompetent or a homicide victim.
If an employer terminates, penalizes or threatens or otherwise coerces an employee for taking leave, the employee may bring a lawsuit for damages and for an order requiring the employee's reinstatement or otherwise rescinding such action. If the employee prevails, the employee will be reimbursed for his or her reasonable attorney fees.
An employer should consider including a crime victim leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of crime victim leave leave and to show its compliance with Connecticut law.
Family Violence Victim Leave
An employer with three or more employees must provide employees who are victims of family violence with up to 12 days of paid or unpaid leave (which may include, but is not limited to, compensatory time, vacation time, personal days off or other time off) during any calendar year in which the leave is reasonably necessary to:
- Seek medical care or counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability;
- Obtain services from a victim services organization;
- Relocate because of the family violence; or
- Participate in any civil or criminal proceeding related to or resulting from such family violence.
Family violence includes incidents that result in physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or acts of threatened violence that result in a fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, including, but not limited to, stalking or a pattern of threatening, between family or household members (e.g., spouse or former spouse, parents, children, persons related by blood or marriage). Verbal abuse or an argument can also constitute family violence if there is a present danger and likelihood that physical violence will result. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38a.
An employer may require that an employee provides advance notice of their need for leave. When the employee's need for leave is foreseeable - such as a weekly counseling appointment that the employee would know about in advance - the employer can require that the employee ask for the leave as many as seven days ahead of time. However, if an employee's need for leave comes up suddenly, such as in the case of an emergency, the employee must ask for the time off as soon as practicable under his or her specific circumstance.
An employer can require that an employee provide a signed written statement certifying that the leave is for a purpose authorized under the law. An employer should consider creating a form that the employee can just sign. An employer may also require an employee to provide additional documentation to support his or her need for leave, such as:
- A police report or court record; or
- A written statement that the employee is a victim of family violence from the medical or counselor's office, the domestic violence organization, an attorney or a court employee.
An employer should be careful to keep confidential any documentation submitted in connection with this type of leave request and not show the documentation to anyone else unless the law requires it or if it is necessary to keep an employee safe. When an employer must disclose such documentation, the employer should let the employee know first.
If an employer terminates, penalizes or threatens or otherwise coerces an employee in violation of the law, the employee, not later than 180 days from the occurrence of such action, may bring a civil action for damages and for an order requiring the employee's reinstatement or otherwise rescinding such action. If the employee prevails, the employee will be allowed a reasonable attorney's fee fixed by the court.
A covered employer should consider including a family violence victim leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of family violence victim leave and to show its compliance with Connecticut law.
Jury Duty Leave
An employer is required to pay full-time employees their regular wages for the first five days of jury duty unless they are considered temporary or casual employees. For more information on jury duty leave, please see Jury Duty: Connecticut.
An employer with 25 or more employees may not terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee who is absent from work to perform duties as a candidate, member-elect or member of the General Assembly. The leave time can be unpaid, but the employee may not lose any seniority due to the leave.
Employees must be provided a choice of shifts to accommodate the leave. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 2-3a.
A covered employer should consider including a legislative leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of legislative leave and to show its compliance with Connecticut law.
Elected Official Leave
An employer with more than 25 employees is required to grant a personal leave of absence for not more than two consecutive terms of office to employees who accept a full-time elective municipal or state office position. Employees who accept part-time positions (like many legislators) are not entitled to leave under this law.
Employees are required to give their employer written notice that they are a candidate for a full-time municipal or state office within 30 days after nomination for that office.
When the employee reapplies for their original position (following the term or terms of municipal or state office) their employer is required to reinstate the employee to their original position or to a similar position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other service credits. There is one exception to the reinstatement rules. If the employer's circumstances have changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so, the employer is not required to do so. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51l.
A covered employer should consider including a municipal or state office leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of elected official leave and to show its compliance with Connecticut law.
Any member of the Connecticut National Guard whom the Governor orders into active state service has all of the protections afforded to servicemembers on federal active service by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. For more information on military leave, please see USERRA: Connecticut.
Emergency Responder Leave
An employer may not terminate, cause to be terminated, or in any manner discriminate against any employee who is an active volunteer firefighter or member of a volunteer ambulance service or company because the employee arrives late to work or is absent from work because he or she was responding to a fire or ambulance call prior to, or during, the employee's regular hours of employment.
An employer may require that if an employee takes such leave the employee must submit documentation that shows the employee's status as a volunteer firefighter or volunteer ambulance service member and/or verifies that the employee did respond to a fire or ambulance call (specifying the date, time and duration of the response). +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-322c.
An employer should consider including an emergency responder leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, and supervisors, about the availability of emergency responder leave and to demonstrate compliance with Connecticut law.
A Connecticut private employer is not required to provide its employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-76k; Gagnon v. Housatonic Valley Tourism Dist. Comm., +888 A.2d 104, +92 Conn. App. 835 (2006); Santangelo v. Elite Beverage, Inc., +783 A.2d 500, +65 Conn. App. 618 (2001); Fulco v. The Norwich Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., +609 A.2d 1034, +27 Conn. App. 800 (1992).
An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment. An employer is, however, required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-76k.
If the employer's established policy or employment contract is silent on the matter, the employer is not required to pay accrued vacation upon separation unless the employer has established a practice of doing so. An employer may also cap the amount of leave an employee may accrue over time or implement a "use-it-or-lose-it" policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it.
Employers should be aware that certain leaves are protected by state law and therefore it should train its supervisory employees not to take action against an employee because he or she took leave or indicated that he or she may take the leave in the near future. See Training and Development: Federal.
Civil Air Patrol Leave
Effective October 1, 2019, an employer may not terminate, discipline or discriminate against an employee because the employee is a member of the Civil Air Patrol or is absent from work due to reasons related to Civil Air Patrol service. For more information, see USERRA: Connecticut.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Connecticut has enacted a law providing paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits, beginning January 1, 2022. Family and medical leave will be paid for by employee contributions, which must be made beginning January 1, 2021. For more information, see FMLA: Connecticut.