Attention Connecticut employers — There are three new employment laws going into effect on October 1, 2017, which will affect your workplace. Are you ready to comply with the following new laws?
Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace
The most significant new law going into effect is the Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace. This law amends the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) to add additional protections for pregnant employees.
Under the previous version of the CFEPA, it is unlawful for an employer to:
- Terminate an employee because she is pregnant;
- Refuse to provide an employee who is disabled because of her pregnancy with a reasonable leave of absence (i.e. pregnancy disability leave);
- Deny an employee who is disabled because of her pregnancy any compensation to which she is entitled as a result of the accumulation of disability or leave benefits accrued pursuant to plans maintained by the employer;
- Fail or refuse to reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other service credits upon her signifying her intent to return unless, in the case of a private employer, the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so.
Under the amended CFEPA, employers are also prohibited from:
- Limiting, segregating or classifying the employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy;
- Discriminating against an employee or person seeking employment on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment;
- Failing or refusing to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or person seeking employment due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that such an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer;
- Denying employment opportunities to an employee or person seeking employment if such denial is due to the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation due to her pregnancy;
- Forcing an employee or person seeking employment affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if such employee or person seeking employment:
- does not have a known limitation related to her pregnancy, or
- does not require a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential duties related to her employment;
- Requiring an employee to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided in lieu of such leave; and
- Retaliating against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of her employment based upon such employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.
Employers are also required to post the new Pregnancy Discrimination Poster in a prominent please in the workplace. This notice must also be provided to employees as follows:
- To all existing employees by January 28,2018;
- To an existing employee within 10 days after she notifies the employer of her pregnancy or related conditions; and
- To new employees upon commencing employment.
The poster is available in English and Spanish on the Connecticut Department of Labor website.
An Act Concerning the Provision of Notice of a Claim for Compensation by an Employee to an Employer or a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner
This new law is intended to “streamline” the workers’ compensation claims notice process “to ensure that an employer is expeditiously made aware of any workers’ compensation claim made by an employee.”
Under the current law, employers are required to provide a response within 28 days of the receipt of a workers’ compensation claim. If the employer does not meet this deadline, there is an automatic presumption that full liability for the claim has been acknowledged by the business. The current method has several problems – including:
- Claims being delivered to a general address,
- Claims being lost after mailing with no proof of ever having been mailed, or
- Claims taking extra time to reach the benefits administrator and delaying a company’s response.
The new law attempts to address these issues in the following ways:
- Employers may choose to post a notice that designates a mailing address where claims for workers’ compensation must be sent. If an employer choses this option, the employer must –
- Post the notice in the same prominent location as all other workplace posters
- Provide the designated mailing address to the Connecticut Department of Labor (which will then list the address on its website) and provide any updates to the address.
If the employer follows the above process, then the 28-day period only begins on the date that the notice of a claim is received at that address (in other words, if the employee sends to a different address, the countdown does not start).
- Employees must mail the notice of claim for workers’ compensation benefits to their employers by certified mail.
Act Concerning the Interstate Passenger Carrier Law
This new law makes certain professional drivers exempt from coverage under the state’s unemployment law. This exemption applies to drivers under a contract with another party, if that driver:
- can transport at least eight passengers, including the driver, and
- has a gross vehicle weight rating over 6,000 pounds;
- Owns the vehicle or holds it under a “commercially reasonable” bona fide lease that is not with the contracting party or a related entity;
- Is paid based on factors that can include mileage-based rates, a percentage of any rate schedules, time spent driving, or a flat fee;
- Can refuse to work without consequence and can accept work from many contractors without consequence; and
- Is not considered an employee under the unemployment law’s “ABC Test.”
The benefit for employers, these drivers will not accrue unemployment benefits for their service, and businesses using these drivers are not required to pay unemployment taxes.