Joe volunteers to run a youth soccer club. He wants kids outside and on the field. But the Connecticut Department of Labor is getting in the way. The Department of Labor has audited Joe’s nonprofit in Guilford plus 93 other youth leagues. Now, Joe is afraid to pay people who work with his club. If youth sports leagues are afraid to pay workers in Connecticut, other employers must be terrified.
Over the past three years, the Connecticut Department of Labor has audited 95 youth sports leagues, limiting the programs they can offer or increasing the cost to families. The DOL audits focus on whether workers paid by the league, including referees, coaches and assistants, are properly classified as independent contractors. The attempts by the Connecticut DOL to change the classification of referees and clinicians for youth sports organizations has the potential to affect business throughout Connecticut. By changing the definitions of who constitutes an employee or contractor, businesses may find themselves having to put new workers on their payroll, even for one-time minor services.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association and BlumShapiro released Friday their annual survey of businesses in Connecticut, showing state taxes and regulations are the biggest roadblocks to business growth and expansion. The three biggest challenges to growth cited by the businesses surveyed were costs associated with state regulations, taxes and “unpredictability surrounding legislative decision making.”
Connecticut businesses drop unemployment appeals or fail to show up for hearings 40 percent of the time, according to state figures, driving the low success rate for employer appeals found in a recent association report. Strategic Services on Unemployment & Workers' Compensation, a nationwide association of employers, recently reported that Connecticut employers have one of the lowest success rates in the country. Data provided by Chief Appeals Officer Ralph Dorsey shows that employers frequently decide not to follow through on their appeals, contributing to their low success rate.
A new study from the Employment Policies Institute shows that Connecticut’s 2012 paid sick leave law resulted in reduced benefits and less hours for young and low-wage workers. The study, conducted by Dr. Thomas Ahn of the University of Kentucky, focused on Connecticut because it was the first state to mandate paid sick leave and therefore had the most measurable data. According to Ahn’s research one-third of surveyed businesses reduced other employee benefits to compensate for costs due to the law. One fifth of the businesses either raised prices or reduced staffing levels.
Connecticut is one of the epicenters of the $70 million campaign to pressure states and municipalities to raise the minimum wage to $15, despite the damaging effects that a steep minimum wage increase would have on workers. The money for the “Fight for $15” campaign comes from the dues of members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which in Connecticut represents many state employees, as well as health care and food service workers. A state board, the Connecticut Low Wage Employer Advisory Board, whose membership includes an SEIU director, will hold a hearing in Bridgeport next week on whether or not the state should raise its minimum wage.