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Connecticut: Recreational Marijuana Legalized & Salary Range Disclosures Implemented

As the Connecticut general legislative session came to a close a couple of weeks ago, 2 important bills were signed into law impacting employers and their workforces.

Among these latest developments include requirements for employers to disclose pay ranges for vacant positions and employers rights to maintain drug-free workplaces as it pertains to legalized marijuana. Here’s a roundup of the key information and employer action steps for both of these enactments.

Recreational Marijuana Legalized with Employment Provisions

On June 22nd, Governor Lamont signed a bill legalizing the recreational purchase and use of marijuana. While the bill does not specify when recreational marijuana will begin to be sold in the state, the Governor has previously discussed May 2022 as a target date.

The bill contains specific provisions impacting employers and employees. Specifically, employers must be aware of the following changes taking effect July 1, 2022:

  • Employers are still allowed to maintain a drug-free workplace and implement policies prohibiting the possession, use or other consumption of cannabis by an employee while performing work duties or on the work premises. However, employers may need to explore reasonable accommodations if the cannabis is for medical marijuana patients.
  • Unless the employer has an express policy, they generally cannot take adverse action against an employee because of their cannabis use outside of the workplace.
  • Employers who implement policies prohibiting employee possession or use of cannabis must put the policy in writing and make it available to all employees and all prospective employees when offers of employment are made.
  • Employers generally cannot terminate, refuse to hire or take other adverse employment action against an employee or prospective employee based on their cannabis use outside of the workplace prior to the employee or prospective employee becoming employed, unless doing so would cause a violation of a federal contract or loss of federal funding.
  • Employers can still take employment action based on reasonable suspicion of an employee’s usage of cannabis while engaged in the performance of work or on-call, or upon deciding that an employee “manifests specific, articulable symptoms of drug impairment” while working or on-call.
  • Employers may implement policies requiring drug testing or fitness-for-duty evaluations for employees and prospective employees, in compliance with this and other Connecticut drug testing laws.

Although many of the provisions affecting workplace policies and practices will not take effect for another year, Connecticut employers should:

  • Familiarize themselves with the requirements of the new law
  • Review and revise policies
  • Communicate policies in advance
  • Consult with our HR team to ensure timely compliance

Salary Range Disclosure

Effective October 1, 2021, “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position,” goes into effect. The Act requires Connecticut employers to disclose the wage range for vacant positions to both job applicants and existing employees.

Connecticut law already restricts employers from asking candidates about previous or current compensation and generally allows employees to discuss wages.

Under the new law, a Connecticut employer cannot:

  • Fail or refuse to provide an applicant for employment the wage range for a position for which the applicant is applying, upon the earliest of (a) the applicant’s request or (b) prior to or at the time the applicant is made an offer of compensation.
  • Fail or refuse to provide an employee with the wage range for the employee’s position upon (a) the hiring of the employee, (b) a change in the employee’s position with the employer, or (c) the employee’s first request for a wage range.

“Wage range” is defined as the “range of wages an employer anticipates relying on when setting wages for a position.” This may include information related to pay scales, previously determined wages for the position, current ranges for employees who hold a comparable position, or the employer’s budgeted amount for the position.

Further, the new law also broadens and clarifies the standard used to ensure an employer is not discriminating in the compensation it pays to an employee based on gender. It requires employers to provide equal pay for comparable as opposed to equal work.

Determining whether work is comparable requires a review of various factors including “a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.” The new law makes clear that certain factors such as geographic location, credentials, skills, education, and training may be bona fide reasons other than sex upon which employers may make compensation decisions.

Action steps for Connecticut employers:

  • Review their practices regarding disclosure of wage ranges to ensure compliance by October 1, 2021
  • Conduct a gender pay audit reviewing comparable roles within the organization
  • Consult with our HR team to ensure timely compliance

As with any legislative change, we’ll continue to monitor any updates or changes made.