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Are you ready? Big changes to Connecticut’s FMLA and Paid Family and Medical Leave go into effect Jan. 1

By: Paula N. Anthony, Esq.

In 2019, Connecticut joined neighboring states New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island in passing a paid leave bill. Under the PFMLA  employees may be eligible for paid leave for life events covered under the federal and state FMLA, and the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act. The bill also made sweeping changes to the State’s FMLA laws. While employee payroll deductions for paid leave benefits began in January 2021, availability of paid leave benefits and implementation of the changes to CTFMLA were deferred until January 1, 2022.

Effective January 1, qualified employees  will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of replacement wages, payable up to a maximum of 95 % for those earning less than or equal to 40 times the state minimum wage and capped at 60 times the state minimum wage for those earning more.  Employees with a serious health condition resulting in incapacitation during pregnancy could get an additional 2 weeks paid leave.  Although the law allows employers to seek approval for a private plan, for most employers, the paid leave benefits will be administered by the State’s Paid Leave Authority. The Authority began accepting applications for benefits on December 1, 2021.

Additionally, all private sector employers with at least one employee will be required to provide job protected leave for eligible employees under Connecticut’s FMLA , a significant change from the previous 75 employee threshold.  While the new law shortens the amount of leave from 16 weeks to 12 weeks, it also shortens the length of time an employee must work before becoming eligible from 12 months and 1000 hours to 12 weeks with no minimum hour requirement.

There are several other significant changes going forward:

  • employers requiring employees to use employer-provided paid time off must allow those employees to retain at least 2 weeks of paid leave; and  
  • the definition of “family member” is broadened to include siblings, parent-in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, and “individuals related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships.”

In addition to private sector employees, the law covers non-union State employees, as well as unionized municipal and local or regional board of employees whose bargaining units have negotiated inclusion in the paid leave program. In those cases where unionized public employees have negotiated inclusion, non-union employees for those employers would also be covered.

Hopefully, given the lead time to prepare for these changes, most employers are ready. If not, better review those leave policies!  Resources, including an HR Toolkit are available on the Paid Leave Authority’s website  https://ctpaidleave.org