The state of Connecticut advanced a new version of paid family and medical leave for workers in the state. Signed by Governor Ned Lamont, the new legislation provides workers more paid time off to care for family members.
What does the new paid family and medical leave law include?
The law expands coverage under the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA). It provides a wider range of benefits than federal government’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in several ways.
- The CTFMLA expands coverage from companies with 15 or more employees to companies that employ one or more people. Sole proprietors and the self-employed will have the opportunity to opt into the system.
- The revised CTFMLA allows employees who have worked only 12 weeks (no matter how many hours) to be eligible for paid leave. Under the federal FMLA, employees had to work for their employer for 12 months and 1,250 hours in the year prior to the leave request to be eligible for unpaid leave.
- The Connecticut leave law expands the coverage from covering the employee, the employee’s parents, children, spouse, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren to also include “anyone else whose close association, whether by blood or affinity, is the equivalent of a family member.” Employees may use the allotted time under the bill in addition to up to two weeks of previously-provided employer paid sick leave to care for themselves or a family member for a total of 14 weeks.
- In addition to coverage for the birth or placement of a child in foster or adoptive care under the federal statute, the revised CTFMLA adds an additional two weeks of paid leave in the event of an employee incapacitated by pregnancy, for a maximum 14 weeks paid leave.
How is the law funded?
The expanded coverage for employees will be funded through a payroll tax. Beginning January 1, 2021 an additional payroll tax of 0.5% will be levied on all employees into a state-run trust.
When does the new law take effect?
Employees will be eligible to use the new leave benefit starting January 1, 2022.
How much will employees earn?
To determine how much the employee will be paid during their leave period, the state developed a sliding scale for compensation. The lowest paid workers will receive the maximum benefit equivalent to 95% of their regular weekly pay, with a cap of 60 times the current minimum wage.
Estimates put the maximum amount of leave pay at $780 per week in 2022, and $900 a week in 2023. It’s anticipated that by the time benefits take effect, the minimum wage in the state will be approximately $15.00 per hour.
Who is ineligible?
Under the new law, only unionized public employees are exempt. The law provides an option for their unions to negotiate participation in the program.
How will benefits be administered?
The new law establishes the state’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance. It will be administered by the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority who will collect employee contributions and issue payments for leave requests. The Authority will have the option of paying benefits earlier than January 1, 2022 if they are deemed “administratively feasible.”
Anticipating concerns regarding insufficient funding, the new law includes language that suggests benefits will be reduced if revenue is insufficient. Employers, who incur no costs for the plan, may apply to the Authority to provide benefits through a private plan option, which “must provide employees with at least the same level of benefits under the same conditions and costs as the state program.”
Concerns about fraud
Opponents of the law are concerned about fraud, which the legislation takes into account. For those who defraud the system, either by making false statements or misrepresentations, and who receive benefits will be barred from benefits collection for two years and will be subject to a fine of half the benefits paid. Employers who assist in the claim would be similarly liable.
Connecticut now joins California, DC, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington in mandating some form of paid leave of absence for employees.
This article is intended only for informational purposes. It is not a substitute for legal consultation. While we attempt to keep the information covered timely and accurate, laws and regulations are subject to change.