Connecticut to Amend Current Family and Medical Leave Act to Provide Paid Leave Effective January 1, 2022

As promised, Governor Lamont has signed the newly passed Paid Family and Medical Leave Act into law.  Connecticut joins New York and New Jersey in offering a paid family leave benefit, making the tri-state area a family friendly zone.

Current Family and Medical Leave Act

The current CT FMLA applies to employers with 75 or more employees within the state of Connecticut and provides up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave during a 24-month period, or up to 26 weeks leave for a qualifying exigency.  Leave may be taken for:

  • Birth and care of a newborn child,
  • Placement of an adopted or foster child with the employee,
  • Care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition,
  • Employee’s own serious health condition, including incapacity due to pregnancy,
  • Any qualifying exigency.

To be eligible for leave, an employee must be employed with the employer for at least 12 months and have worked 1,000 hours in the past 12 months.  Benefits are continued as if the employee is actively employed and the employee should be reinstated to the same position.

What is Changing in the Amended Family and Medical Leave Law?

Effective January 1, 2022, private employers with one or more employees within the state of Connecticut will need to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave within a 12-month period and up to 26 weeks for a qualifying exigency.  Employees incapacitated due to pregnancy may take an additional two weeks of leave during the 12-month period.  The reasons for leave and definition of family have been expanded.  Leave many be taken for:

  • Birth and care of a newborn child,
  • Placement of an adopted or foster child with the employee,
  • To care for a family member (defined as any individual related by blood or whose relationship is the equivalent of a family relationship) with a serious health condition,
  • Employee’s own serious health condition, including incapacity due to pregnancy,
  • To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor or
  • Any qualifying exigency.

To be eligible for leave, an employee must be employed with the employer for at least 3 months immediately preceding the request for leave.  Benefits are continued as if the employee is actively employed and the employee should be reinstated to the same position.

How Will the Paid Leave be Funded?

Effective January 1, 2021, employers will begin collecting a payroll tax of 0.5% of the employee’s pay capped at the Social Security contribution and benefit base.

What Paid Leave Compensation is Available?

Weekly paid leave compensation is capped at a maximum of up to 60 times minimum wage.  When payments begin January 1, 2022, minimum wage is expected to be $13/hour, making the maximum weekly compensation $780, expected to increase to $900 in 2023.

Is it Possible to Waive Participation in the State Plan if there Currently is a Paid Leave Plan in Place?

Employers are able to submit their private plan for approval.  In order to be approved, the private plan must:

  • Provide the same number of weeks of benefits
  • Provide at least the same level of wage replacement,
  • Provide leave for all of the circumstances specified in the Act,
  • Cost employees no more than the premium required by the Act
  • Be approved by a majority of the employees

Employers must:

  • Post a bond if the private plan is self-insured
  • Provide coverage for all employees, and all future employees
  • Meet any additional requirements established by the authority.

What are the Notification Requirements?

Effective July 1, 2022, employers will be required to provide written notice to each employee at the time of hire and annually thereafter.

What are the Penalties for Failure to Comply?

If the employer fails to collect the payroll tax and make the required payment, a state collection agency will collect any contributions due with interest.

What should employers do now?

Employers don’t need to take any immediate action.  As with any new law, more information will be released closer to the effective date and updates, changes and clarifications will most likely be communicated.

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