Paid Family Leave Bill Moving Forward in Connecticut

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A bill to provide paid medical and family leave to Connecticut employees is moving forward in the Connecticut legislature.  The budget (finally!) passed provides $140,000 for the year 2016 to figure out the logistics of the law- a consultant will be hired by October 1, 2015; and a report submitted by February 1, 2016.  This program would provide paid leave for persons suffering from serious illnesses, new parents, and those caring for ill relatives.  It would be funded through payroll deductions and would pay up to $1,000 per week for 12 weeks.  This would differ significantly from the FMLA, which only applies to employers with more than 50 employees and only provides unpaid leave.  This law would also differ from the law requiring employers of more than 50 employees to provide paid sick leave to service employees, which went into effect in January, 2012.  That law allows certain hourly service employees to take up to 40 hours of paid leave per year, subject to certain restrictions and after employees accrue the hours.  See more here: www.ctdol.state.ct.us for all of the rules related to the 2011 law.

This new proposed paid family leave law would apply to employers of all sizes, would benefit all types of employees, and would apply to employees who have earned at least $9,300 in the preceding 12 month period.  California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island all have some variation on this law, though Connecticut’s would be more generous in the amount of time allowed and the maximum paid to employees per week. www.nationalpartnership.org/.

This law is, in fact, favored by some small business groups, as it allows them to provide paid leave at no cost to their own bottom lines. The program would function like insurance- everyone pays in, and if and when you need it, you may take advantage of its benefits.

This law would help align Connecticut with the rest of the world.  Not the “first world,” not the “industrialized world,” the actual world.  Check out this map: www.nytimes.com/imagepages/.  Except for the US and Papua New Guinea, every country in the world provides paid maternity leave in order to promote close family ties and keep women in the workplace.

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