Julie Kushner
Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, during Senate debate on May 18, 2023 Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

The Senate voted Thursday to expand Connecticut’s 2011 paid sick day law to employees of smaller businesses by eliminating a provision of the current law which exempted employers with fewer than 50 workers. 

The chamber’s Democratic members passed the legislation on a partisan, 20-12 vote following an afternoon debate. 

“I pay tribute to all of those who went before me so many years ago in creating the first Connecticut paid sick days bill but since the time we enacted that legislation, things have changed considerably,” Sen. Julie Kusner, D-Danbury, said. “So today we will be expanding our current statute to all individuals employed by an employer in the state of Connecticut.”

The proposal would allow workers to accrue 40 hours of paid sick time per year, which would become accessible 100 days after an employee’s hire date. The bill also clarifies that a worker would be permitted to use paid sick leave time in order to tend to the sickness of family members like spouses, children, parents, siblings or grandparents. 

“In large part, we believe this will bring us in line with other states as well as provide greater opportunity for those in our state who have a need for paid sick days,” Kushner said. 

When the bill was raised for a public hearing in March, state labor unions hailed the proposal as a necessary update to Connecticut’s nation-leading 2011 law. Meanwhile, business representatives framed it as an expansion of an already costly state mandate. 

Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, echoed those concerns during Thursday’s lengthy debate. 

Rob Sampson
Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, during a debate on May 18, 2023 Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

“When we engage in activity like creating a mandate on employers, that they must provide a benefit to employees, we are effectively damaging the freedom of the parties to be able to negotiate those terms themselves, especially if they may not even be interested in what we have to offer,” Sampson said. 

Sen. Martha Marx, D-New London, said that her desire to expand the paid sick day program to home companion workers was one of the reasons she ran for the state Senate. 

“I can’t believe that, my first term here, I actually get to pass a law — vote for a law that is going to give those women that I see every single day, that they’re actually going to be able to earn Connecticut sick leave,” Marx said. 

“Connecticut should be really proud about how we treat the workers in our community,” she said.

The bill will now move to the House for consideration.