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Labor and Employment Law Update for the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST)

December 7, 2020

Given the challenges of 2020, it is hard to believe that 2021 is right around the corner. For municipalities, this means, among other things, considering any changes in the areas of labor and employment that need to be addressed in the New Year. Below are three areas that municipalities should consider:

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

For any employer that is finding it difficult to meet the state deadline to conduct sexual harassment prevention training due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities extended the Sexual Harassment Prevention Training deadline from January 1, 2021, to February 9, 2021. This extension comes as a result of Executive Order No. 9L.

This new deadline only applies to employers who have not already satisfied their sexual harassment training obligations under the Time’s Up Act.

As a reminder, employers with three or more employees must provide all employees with two hours of training by this new deadline. Otherwise, the other sexual harassment training and education obligations remain the same for all employers, including training new employees.

Shipman has available an online webinar applicable for all employees for $20 per person. Group discounts are also available. The webinar meets the training requirements set forth by the state and provides viewers with an opportunity to ask questions in an interactive format. You can register for our training here.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

As of January 1, 2021, employers in Connecticut will be required to deduct ½ of 1% (0.5%) of employees’ wages and provide that to the CT Paid Leave Authority in order to fund the program for usage in 2022. This requirement, however, does not apply to municipal employers unless they agree with one of their bargaining units to participate in the program. If a municipality and one of its bargaining units do agree to such participation, then all non-affiliated or non-union employees of that municipality will also have to participate and contribute to the program even if they do not want to. Other bargaining units, however, would still be exempt from the program unless they too negotiate for inclusion with the municipality.

Whether inclusion in the program is a mandatory subject of bargaining is an open question. As it relates to insurance coverage which impacts benefits and terms and conditions of employment, it is likely that the State Labor Board would find this to be a mandatory subject of bargaining if put on the table for negotiations by a union. Also, an open question is what would happen if this issue was put before an interest arbitration panel. Remember, inclusion by one union impacts other employees not in the bargaining unit. Stay tuned for further guidance.

As a reminder, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program is a wage replacement program, not a job protection program. Job protection for municipal employers is still governed by the Federal FMLA, which is not changing or impacted by the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.

An Act Concerning Police Accountability

In light of the recently enacted law governing police accountability, municipalities should be ready to address any changes required by that Act. In addition, as many provisions impact terms and conditions of employment for current police officers, municipalities should review the Act and work with their legal counsel to determine what changes require impact bargaining if a union identifies any substantial secondary impacts.

If you have any questions please contact Jarad Lucan at jlucan@goodwin.com.

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