Connecticut today becomes the first state in the nation to have a paid sick leave policy on the books. The law applies to firms with 50 or more service workers.

Because of the confusion over what constitutes a service worker, the state Department of Labor has been involved in an ongoing outreach program to educate business owners and human resource managers. Another seminar in the outreach effort is slated for Jan. 12, the agency announced.

Heidi Lane, chief attorney for the labor department, said that firms with existing paid sick leave policies must ensure that their time off accrues at the same rate as the new state law, which is one hour for every 40 hours worked, or better.

Other Connecticut laws taking effect today include a new tax credit program for businesses that hire new employees; expanded insurance coverage for breast MRIs, bone marrow tests, colorectal cancer screening and ostomy supplies; and a loan forgiveness program for students who graduate from so-called "green studies" programs.