Late Friday, Connecticut joined neighboring states New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island and became the latest state to pass a paid leave bill. Governor Lamont has signaled he will sign the measure when it reaches his desk.  The bill makes sweeping changes to current Connecticut FMLA laws, although the benefits would not become available to employees until January 1, 2022.

The new law will provide up to 12 weeks of replacement wages, payable on a sliding scale up to a maximum of 95 % for minimum-wage earners, capped at $900 a week.  Employees needing leave because of pregnancy could get an additional two weeks.  Additionally, starting January 1, 2022, Connecticut FMLA benefits will apply to all private sector employers with at least one employee, a significant change from the current 75 employee threshold.  While the new legislation 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 3 months with no minimum hour requirement.

Other changes include a provision that employers requiring employees to use employer-provided paid leave must allow their employees to retain at least two weeks of paid leave and the expansion of the definition of “family member” to include siblings, parent-in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, 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.”

In addition to private sector employees, the legislation 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.

Although employers have over a year to prepare for these changes, the legislation will undeniably create concern and stress for many employers who have never had to consider or deal with FMLA leave before.  Reviewing your policies and understanding this law is going to take time and employers would be wise to get a head start.

The attorneys in the Labor and Employment Law practice group at Berchem Moses, PC are available to assist you with navigating these changes to paid leave, as well as any other labor and employment related matters.