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Connecticut Senate Narrowly Passes Bill Requiring Employers to Prioritize Previously Laid-Off Employees in Hiring

  • In a 19-15 vote, Connecticut Senate passes bill requiring employers to give preference to laid-off workers when hiring for new positions
  • Measure seeks to have companies restore workforces after COVID-19 pandemic instead of hiring less senior employees to cut costs
  • Critics say the measure is intrusive for small businesses and has too extensive a timeline

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The Connecticut Senate has narrowly passed a bill that would require employers who laid off workers during the COVID-19 pandemic to prioritize rehiring those workers for new job openings. The measure, which was approved in a 19-15 vote, now goes to the Connecticut House of Representatives for a final vote.

The measure passed largely along party lines, with three Democrats joining Republicans in opposition. Proponents say the bill seeks to have businesses restore their workforces instead of hiring less senior workers in a bid to save costs. Opponents said the measure is too intrusive for small businesses and has a timeframe extending well beyond the likely pandemic recovery.

  • The bill requires employers to notify previously laid-off employees within five days of a job becoming available if the employee previously held the position or would qualify with the same training that would be provided to a new hire
  • Laid-off employees are defined as any workers employed by a company for at least six months in the 12-month period preceding Governor Ned Lamont’s declaration of civil preparedness and public health emergencies on March 10, 2020
  • The definition also applies to any layoffs that occurred March 10, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2024 and result from a lack of business, workforce furloughs, or any other non-disciplinary reasons
  • If more than one employee is entitled to consideration, preference will be based on length of service to the company
  • Rehired employees must be offered a position that includes “substantially” the same duties, compensation, benefits, and working conditions
  • Laid-off employees can decline an offer but retain their right to accept a position if their decision is due to underlying health conditions or a family member’s similar health issues
  • Offers must be made if the company continues to conduct the same or similar activities, even if certain changes have occurred such as new ownership or a relocation within 25 miles
  • Employers must provide written notice explaining their decision if they decline to rehire a laid-off worker due to lack of qualifications or if they take any other adverse action against laid-off employees
  • Laid-off employees can file a civil action if they believe their rights have been violated, and employers found in violation can be compelled to provide relief such as reinstatement with back pay
  • Senators rejected three proposed amendments, including requiring that employees didn’t previously reject an employment offer from the company after March 10, 2020; adding skill level, disciplinary record, and attendance record to how rehiring preference is determined; and a liability protection against discriminatory hiring

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