Connecticut has enacted legislation (Substitute Senate Bill 1) that will expand the state’s family and medical leave law to cover all private sector employers. The bill also creates a paid family leave program that will provide wage-replacement benefits to employees who take leave for covered reasons.
Currently, Connecticut's Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) requires private-sector employers with at least 75 employees in the state to allow eligible employees to take up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave during a 24-month period:
· For the birth of a child;
· For the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care;
· To care for their spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
· For their own serious health condition;
· To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor;
· Because of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in the armed forces.
The law also allows eligible employees to take a one-time benefit of 26 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period if the employee has a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a member of the armed forces undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, or on the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty.
To be eligible for CTFMLA leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least:
· 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive); and
· 1,000 work-hours during the 12 months prior to the leave.
Domestic Violence Leave:
The state also has a law that requires employers with three or more employees to provide leave to victims of family violence, so they can:
· Seek medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability for the victim;
· Obtain services from a victim services organization on behalf of the victim;
· Relocate due to family violence; or
· Participate in any civil or criminal proceeding related to family violence.
An employer may limit unpaid family violence leave to 12 days in a calendar year.
Substitute Senate Bill 1:
Effective January 1, 2022, the CTFMLA will be expanded in several ways effective. Here’s a summary of those changes:
· More employers will be covered. All private-sector employers with employees in the state will be required to provide CTFMLA leave.
· The amount of leave will change. Eligible employees will be entitled to up to 12 weeks of CTFMLA leave in a 12-month period. Eligible employees may take up to two additional weeks of leave for a serious health condition resulting in incapacitation that occurs during a pregnancy.
· Eligibility threshold will be lower. To be eligible for CTFMLA leave, an employee just needs to be employed for three months immediately preceding their request for leave. There will no longer be an hours-of-work requirement.
· Additional family members will be covered. Eligible employees may take CTFMLA leave to care for the following family members who have a serious health condition: a spouse, sibling, son or daughter, grandparent, grandchild, or parent, or an individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships.
· New restrictions will apply to leave-substitution rules. The law limits the extent to which an employer may require an employee taking CTFMLA leave to use their employer-provided paid leave.
Note: The definitions of parent, sibling, grandchild, and grandparent include those related to the individual by marriage, adoption, and foster care.
Paid Leave Program:
Beginning January 1, 2022, eligible employees will be entitled to up to 12 weeks of wage-replacement benefits for CTFMLA and family violence leave. An employee may be entitled to up to two more weeks of benefits for a serious health condition resulting in incapacitation that occurs during a pregnancy. To be eligible for wage-replacement benefits, employees must meet certain wage-base thresholds.
The program will be funded by employee contributions, which will begin January 1, 2021. While employers aren’t required to contribute to the program, they are required to withhold and remit employee contributions to the program.
The law allows employers to provide benefits through a private plan, which must provide employees with at least the same level of benefits, under the same conditions and employee costs, as the state program.
Effective July 1, 2022, employers must provide written notices to employees at the time of hire and annually thereafter about:
· The entitlement to CTFMLA leave and family violence leave under state law and the terms under which the leave may be used;
· The opportunity to file a claim for benefits under the paid leave program;
· The prohibition on retaliation against the employee for requesting, applying for or using family and medical leave for which the employee is eligible; and
· The employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for a violation of the laws.
Connecticut employers should review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with Substitute Senate Bill 1 by January 2022.
Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.