Did you know that Connecticut has had a family and medical leave act in place since 1990,three years before Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? These laws allow workers to take leave from work when they have a serious illness, or need to take care of an ill family member, an injured service member, or a new child. With only 16% of employers providing paid leave, usage of the law remains low, as most workers cannot afford to take time from work unpaid.
AARP Connecticut will be working to implement Paid Family Medical Leave legislation in 2015 as part of our ongoing efforts to support family caregivers, so they can help their loved ones remain in their homes, and out of costly institutions.
See also: Caregivers Seek Help as Needs Grow.
According to AARP State Director, Nora Duncan, “AARP supports paid family medical leave for family caregivers, so they don’t have to worry about losing their pay – or losing their jobs – when they have to take time off work to bring their older loved ones to the doctor or provide other critical care.”
Duncan is a member of the State Task Force created in 2013 to investigate how a system of paid family leave might work in Connecticut. The Task Force is led by The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and made up of representatives from nearly 40 organizations and agencies, representing a diverse constituency.
In November, the Task Force issued a report that includes a formal set of recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly in 2015. The recommendations identify key elements that should be included in any paid family leave proposals to ensure that the system is fair and helps employees maintain financial security while they are out on leave to care for themselves or a loved one.
The Task Force recommended that:
- All employees, including state and municipal workers as well as private employees are eligible for paid family leave. Self-employed persons may opt in.
- In order to be eligible for paid family leave, a worker must earn $9,300 in a 12-month base period; Earnings may be with one or multiple employers.
- Workers may use their leave for the reasons defined by CT’s Family & Medical Leave Act with the addition of caring for a parent-in-law or sibling.
- Employees receive 66% of their average weekly earnings up to $1,000/week.
- Employees may take up to 6 weeks of paid family leave within a 12 month period with the ability to take leave incrementally. The waiting period before using leave is 7 days.
- Employees who work for an employer who employs 50 or more employees is entitled to certain job protections.
- The system is funded solely by employee contributions and administered by the Department of Labor.
The report also recommends additional measures to ensure that employees are not retaliated against for using their leave and makes employees liable for any fraudulent claims.
“I would like to thank the members of the Task Force and the many experts who contributed to our vibrant dialogue,” said Duncan. “I look forward to continuing the discussion in the 2015 session and hearing, as part of that dialogue, the voices of the caregivers the law would benefit.”
For additional information or a copy of the full report, visit the PCSW website.