CT Bills Threaten Job Growth, Building Services Industry

By Sue Minichiello

labor-lawNew bills under consideration by the Connecticut State Legislature would, if passed, have significant impact statewide on job growth, building service contractors (BSCs) and their clients/tenants, as well as cleaning and maintenance services workers, and taxpayers.

SB 1 & HB 6212 — An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave

The Legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee introduced two identical bills that propose creating the Family and Medical Leave Compensation (FMLC) program. If passed, SB 1 and HB 6212 would make employees at businesses with two or more workers eligible for up to 12 weeks of annual paid leave under the state’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the family violence leave law, as amended by the bills. Those allow leave for an employee’s illness or that of certain family members; birth of a child; foster care or adoption placement; and situations related to military service and family violence. Employees would be entitled to 100% of their wages, capped at $1,000 per week. Interestingly, the law would not apply to state employees.

The wages piece of the benefit would be funded through employee payroll deductions. However, employers would be required to continue providing non-wage benefits throughout a paid leave.

In public hearing testimony, Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) General Counsel Eric Gjede said the bills “tilt the playing field against Connecticut businesses to other states.” The CBIA also asserts, “Connecticut taxpayers would pay for the program.”

Gjede laid out an example based on the claim by the bills’ advocates that employees would only have to contribute 0.5% of their wages each pay period. Using that calculation, an employee earning $52,000 annually would contribute $260 in a year but would be eligible for up to $12,000 annually in paid leave. Clearly, that math doesn’t add up.

Gjede further stated that requiring employers to continue to pay for employees non-wage benefits during a paid leave — in addition to holding those employees’ jobs open for their return — are unfair burdens that would hurt all CT businesses, especially small businesses.

HB 6914 — An Act Concerning a Minimum Workweek for Persons Performing Janitorial or Building Maintenance Services

Introduced by the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, this bill proposes the institution of a 30-hour minimum workweek for individuals who perform janitorial and building maintenance services. That includes “work customarily performed by cleaners, porters, janitors, handypersons and security guards.” If passed, the new regulations would take effect on January 1, 2018.

Several BSCs and their industry association (Building Service Contractors Association International) have come out in opposition to the bill because they assert it would, in part:

  1. Make it impossible for many current part-time workers, who work another full-time or part-time job, to continue carrying the two jobs.
  1. Result in numerous current part-time workers being displaced or unemployed from those positions.
  1. Increase energy and security costs for clients.
  1. Result in BSCs incurring additional costs that would trickle down to their clients/tenants, most significantly this will trigger BSCs taking on increases in health care costs for employees.

On March 27th, all three of these bills reported out of the CT Legislative Commission Office favorably, were issued in file form (including fiscal notes and bill analysis) and added to the House and Senate calendars appropriately. If you oppose any of these bills, it is important to communicate your objections to your local politicians sooner than later.

(image courtesy of businessnewsdaily.com)