Wage and hour laws are the protections that federal and state governments have put into place for workers to ensure that they are property treated by their employers. They primarily govern the work hours that employees can be expected to work as well as how and when they are to be compensated for that work. It is important for employers to understand these laws so they do not inadvertently violate them and place themselves in a position where liability may be an issue.
Minimum Wage in Connecticut
Connecticut currently has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation, set at $9.60 per hour. This is much greater than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Because both laws are in effect, the one that provides the greatest benefit to the worker is the one that must be applied, ensuring that employers are in compliance with both.
Minimum Wage of Tipped Workers: Employers are only required to pay tipped workers a certain percentage of the minimum wage, and the rest is expected to be made up by the tips the worker receives, which is known as a tip credit. Connecticut law states that restaurant and hotel service workers must receive a wage of $6.07 per hour in 2016. Additionally, bartenders that regularly receive tips must receive a wage of at least $7.82 per hour. Federal law only calls for $2.13 per hour for these workers, but to remain in compliance with both laws, employers must pay the higher state amounts.
Does Minimum Wage Apply to Me: Although most workers are covered under the federal and state minimum wage laws, some exemptions do exist. In Connecticut, these exemptions are largely based on the duties that a worker must perform and their salaries. Executives, administrators and intellectual professionals are all exempt from the state law. Federal law exempts other workers as well, including agricultural workers, fishermen, seamen, and some newspaper employees. For more information on coverage under the FLSA, refer to the U.S. Department of Labor.
When Are Raises Required:
Raises are not a mandated part of the wage laws in Connecticut or under the FLSA. The issue is generally addressed as part of an agreement between employees and their employers.
Work Hours in Connecticut
Neither federal nor state law give a limit to the number of hours each day or week that an employee can be asked to work by employers.
Paying Overtime: Connecticut law and federal law are identical on payment for overtime. Both state that employees must be compensated for any time they work in excess of 40 hours in one workweek. The wage must be one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate. Both laws apply to Connecticut workers, with some exceptions. Airline workers, some farmworkers, delivery drivers and railroad workers are just some people who are exempt under the laws.
Guaranteed Breaks and Meals: Neither federal nor state law dictate that employers must provide break periods for their employees. However, state law does mandate that workers be allowed one 30-minute meal break for every seven and one-half consecutive hours they work. Additionally, both state and federal law require that workers be given adequate time to express milk or breastfeed while at work. In all other cases, the issues remain a matter to be addressed between employees and their employers.
Paid Time-off and Sick Pay: All service workers for companies with 50 or more employees are to be provided with sick leave annually under Connecticut law but not federal law. The workers are to receive their normal hourly wage or the minimum fair wage rate at that time, whichever is greater. Other paid time off is not mandated by either federal or state law.
Notice Period for Employee Termination: Neither state nor federal law have provisions regarding notice periods for employee termination.
Plant Closings & Layoffs: Although Connecticut does not have any specific laws related to plant closings and layoffs, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act covers most of the state’s larger employees with 100 or more full-time employees. It requires that affected employees receive at least 60 days’ notice prior to a mass layoff or plant closure.
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