Recent Changes in Employment Laws: How Will They Affect You?

By Glenn A. Duhl, Esq. & Angelica M. Wilson, Esq.

Labor-Laws.8132629_stdWhile Congress is not taking any action to increase the federal minimum wage, Connecticut and New York are two of 13 states raising the minimum wage in the New Year. Effective January 1, 2014, the Connecticut state minimum wage will rise from $8.25 to $8.70 per hour. A second increase, effective January 1, 2015, will raise the rate to $9.00 per hour. In New York, the state minimum wage will increase to $8.00 per hour. These increases will put both Connecticut and New York’s minimum wage well ahead of the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. If you have not already, this is the time to update your workplace posters to reflect these new changes in the minimum wage.

Another recent legislative development in Connecticut, An Act Concerning Employee Access to Personnel Files, which took effect on October 1, 2013, has a significant impact on the management of employee personnel files and disciplinary actions. The new law establishes specific time limits for employers to respond to an employee’s written request for inspection and/or copying of his or her personnel file. Employers must now comply within 7 business days of the request by a current employee and within 10 business days for former employees.

With respect to disciplinary actions, the Act requires employers to provide employees with copies of any documentation of a disciplinary action within one business day and documented notice of the employee’s termination immediately. In addition, all documented disciplinary actions, notices of termination and performance evaluations must advise the employee “in clear and conspicuous language” that he or she has a right to submit a written statement if he or she disagrees with the employer’s position, and such submissions must be maintained as part of the employee’s personnel file.

These changes highlight the importance of reviewing and modifying internal policies relating to personnel file management and disciplinary actions to ensure compliance with the law.

Lastly, An Act Concerning Unemployment Conformity, effective October 1, 2013, imposes a financial penalty on unemployment claimants who obtain unemployment benefits fraudulently and allows for the withholding of the overpayment due to fraud from the claimant’s state tax refund and, if necessary, federal tax refund.

More importantly for employers, the Act provides penalties for those employers who fail to answer Department of Labor unemployment claim requests for information. As such, where unemployment overpayment is the result of the employer’s failure to respond timely or adequately to requests for information, the employer will be held responsible for the entire overpayment. As this legislative development increases the burden on employers who fail to respond to Department of Labor requests for information, it is important to promptly and fully comply with all requests for information in relation to an employee’s unemployment compensation claim.

As we ring in the New Year, we are reminded that the law is constantly in motion. These recent legislative changes emphasize the importance of staying abreast of issues, which affect both the workplace and your workforce.

Glenn A. Duhl and Angelica M. Wilson are management-side employment and litigation lawyers at Siegel, O’Connor, O’Donnell & Beck, P.C. Please visit www.siegeloconnor.com for more information. 

The information contained in this article is general in nature and offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered and should not be construed as legal advice.