LABOR LAW NEWS

Connecticut Passes Expansive Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

By Kris Janisch
Published July 30, 2019

Connecticut Passes Expansive Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

According to the Connecticut governor’s office, 13 percent of private sector workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave, and 25 percent of mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth.

Connecticut last month became the seventh state in the U.S. to enact a paid family and medical leave act. Signed into law June 25, the measure updated Connecticut’s previous legislation and is considered among the nation’s most expansive paid medical leave bills.

The amount employees will be eligible for under Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act is tied to the state’s minimum wage. (Connecticut in May passed a bill that will increase its minimum wage annually until it reaches to $15 an hour in 2023.)

How FMLA Works in Connecticut

The weekly benefit for Connecticut employees, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, will be:

  • 95 percent of 40 times the minimum wage
  • 60 percent on earnings above the minimum wage

That means the maximum weekly benefit cannot exceed 60 times the minimum wage, which is the equivalent of $780 on a $13 minimum wage, $840 on a $14 minimum wage, and $900 on a $15 minimum wage, according to the governor’s office.

Employees will pay for the time off through a 0.5 percent payroll tax. Companies with one or more employees must provide PFML. Specifics of the bill include:

  • Employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year (14 weeks for pregnancy-related issues)
  • Employees need a doctor to certify that the time off was required
  • Payroll tax begins Jan. 1, 2021
  • Employees can receive benefits starting Jan. 1, 2022

Including taking time to care for themselves, Connecticut employees can use the time for four additional reasons:

  • To care for a new child (including foster or adoption)
  • To care for a family member with a serious condition
  • To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor
  • Qualifying necessity stemming from a family member being on active duty

According to the Connecticut governor’s office, 13 percent of private sector workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave, and 25 percent of mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth.

“Supporting the working families of our state will strengthen our economic footing and make Connecticut a stronger place to live, work, and do business,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “Adopting this program means that workers who need to take time off for a new baby or recover from illness are not punished financially, and businesses do not risk losing good workers during those emergencies. Regardless of whether a public or private entity administers this program, there will be no profit motive to deny any applicant. We know working families are the backbone of our state. If they are not financially stable, Connecticut will never be.”

Paid Family and Medical Leave Laws

Connecticut is the latest in a growing number of jurisdictions to pass bills related to paid leave.

California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington and Oregon, as well as Washington, D.C., have paid family and medical leave programs. Additionally, cities and counties have created their own paid leave laws.

However, some of these laws at the city level have been challenged in the courts, most notably in the Texas cities of San Antonio and Austin. Such action in the courts adds yet another level of complexity to tracking paid leave laws.

Employers who have workers in Connecticut must prepare to give notice to employees and be aware of the January deadlines in 2020 and 2021.

This Labor Law News Blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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