Here we are again, another legislative year when the General Assembly appears determined to follow neighboring states Massachusetts and New York and pass legislation creating paid family medical leave in Connecticut.  The current proposal, which has already passed out of the Labor & Public Employees Committee, does far more than create paid family leave; it expands the definition of eligible employees and covered employers and greatly broadens the qualifying circumstances for leave.

As an initial matter, employers should understand that the proposed legislation seeks to fund paid leave entirely by employees through payroll deductions similar to payroll taxes.  Additionally, the legislation brings Connecticut FMLA in line with the federal FMLA and cap leave entitlement at 12 weeks per 12 months, instead of the current 16 weeks every 24 months.  The good news, however, ends there.

Currently, Connecticut’s FMLA requires employees to have worked for 12 months and 1000 hours as a threshold eligibility question.  The proposed legislation eliminates the length of employment requirement, simply mandating that employees must have earned $2,325 in order to be eligible.  As a result, employees may actually find themselves eligible for leave just days after starting employment.

As for covered employers, Connecticut FMLA provisions currently apply to employers with 75 or more employees.  This new bill lowers that threshold to cover all employers with one or more employees.

Finally, the new bill broadens the circumstances under which employees qualify for leave by expanding the universe of family members for whom employees can take leave to provide care.  Currently, Connecticut’s FMLA allows employees to take leave to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.  The proposed legislation adds siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and “any other individual related by blood or whose close relationship with the employee is the equivalent of a family member” to that list.

The Labor and Employment Practice Group at Berchem Moses, PC is hosting an HR Bootcamp! A labor and employment breakfast seminar series geared toward HR professionals and supervisors on everyday challenges in managing a workforce. The first session, Managing Employee Leave, to be held on March 22nd, will discuss the interplay of FMLA, the ADA and Workers’ Compensation.  For more information and to register for this and other sessions, go to https://www.berchemmoses.com/BMD-News/Seminars.shtml.