New Year, New Laws

By Attorney Raymond L. Baribeault, Jr.
Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law

After the champagne has been consumed and many resolutions have been made, the New Year also rings in a bevy of new laws.

Sales tax filing deadline changed: Legislation passed in 2014 changes the due date for filing and paying Connecticut sales and use tax from the last day of the month to the 20th of the month following the close of the reporting period. This change also applies to the business use tax, room occupancy tax, and prepaid wireless E 911 fee. To provide fair notice of this change and a reasonable opportunity to make any required systems changes, the Department of Revenue Services will implement this legislation for tax periods beginning on or after January 1, 2015.

Connecticut's Paid Sick Leave Law: In 2012, Connecticut became the first state mandating paid sick leave for qualified employees working for companies with 50 or more employees. Effective January 1, 2015, the method for determining employer status is changed, and employers are allowed to use a calendar year or other standard benefit year for purposes of accruing paid sick leave. Currently, if the employer meets the 50-employee threshold during any quarter, it must provide paid sick leave in the following year. The amended law eliminates the quarterly formula and instead determines whether an employer is covered based on the number of employees on its payroll for the week containing October 1 annually. The law expressly prohibits employers from terminating, dismissing, or transferring any employee between worksites to fall below the 50-employee threshold.

Further, under prior law, employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked during a calendar year. Under the amended law, employers will be able to use any 365-day period they use to calculate employee benefits. This change will allow employers to start the paid sick leave benefit year on any date (such as on the employee's anniversary date or the beginning of the employer's fiscal year), and to align the accrual period for paid sick leave with other paid time off policies and timekeeping systems..

Changes made by the amended law will be helpful to many employers, particularly those with a fluctuating headcount or that work on a non-calendar year fiscal year. Because accruals will no longer have to be made on a calendar year basis, employers will be able to start the paid sick leave benefit year on a date that works best for them.

Minimum Wage Increase: Effective January 1, 2015, the minimum wage in Connecticut will increase from $8.70 to $9.15 per hour, while the minimum wage for service employees (tipped employees) in the restaurant industry remains at $5.69 per hour. However, if a service employee does not earn sufficient tips to equal the minimum wage or more over the workweek, the employer must pay the difference as wages.

Limitation on Patient Co-Pays for Physical Therapists: Beginning on January 1, there is a limit of $30 per visit on patient copays for services provided by in-network physical therapists.

New Foreclosure Option: An Act Concerning an Optional Method of Foreclosure becomes effective as of January 1, 2015 and provides another option in foreclosure cases. The new remedy is called Foreclosure By Market Sale. The Act applies only to first mortgages on residential (one to four family dwellings) properties where the amount due on the mortgage exceeds the appraised value of the property. After designated notification periods, the lender must have a written appraisal of the fair market value of the property performed, and then both parties must agree to a listing agreement. If the homeowner receives an offer to purchase the property that is mutually acceptable to both parties, the homeowner executes a contract for sale with the purchaser. The proceeds of the sale are brought into court and, if not sufficient to pay the full amount of any mortgage or lien foreclosed, the court may render a deficiency judgment against any party liable.

The Use Of Electronic Defense Weapons By Police Officers: This act requires the State Police and local police departments that authorize their officers to use electronic defense weapons (a weapon that, by electronic impulse or current, is capable of immobilizing a person temporarily, but is not capable of inflicting death or serious physical injury, including a stun gun or other conductive energy device) to document their use and annually, beginning January 15, 2016, report the information to the Office of Policy and Management for posting on its website.

Please contact Attorney Raymond Baribeault at Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law via email at rbaribeault@sswbgg.com or via phone at (860) 442-4416 with questions regarding these new laws.