May 22, 2019

Senator Abrams Proudly Votes For Creation Of Statewide Paid Family And Medical Leave Program

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) proudly voted for legislation creating a statewide paid family and medical leave program. Connecticut residents would gain access to benefits allowing them to take time off work to care for a newborn child, a sick family member, or their own serious illness under the bill.

“No one should have to face the impossible choice between their family and their career,” said Sen. Abrams. “This will give people the financial security to take care of themselves or their loved ones when facing medical problems or in the wonderful event of having a child. It says to the people of Connecticut and people elsewhere that we’re a state that cares about family and business, letting people have balance in their lives.”

Paid family and medical leave in Connecticut comes as the state, and several others across the United States, work to match what is otherwise a global custom. The United States is the only nation of the 41 in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union that does not provide any paid leave for new parents, and the United Nations’ International Labor Organization indicates 183 of 185 countries surveyed provide paid maternity leave; only the United States and Papau New Guinea do not.

Additionally, the legislation aims to support a changing family and household dynamic in the United States. In the last 45 years, the number of households with both parents working full time increased by 15 percent, and the number of two-parent households where the mother is not employed fell by 20 percent in that time. Connecticut joins Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, Washington and the District of Columbia in implementing these new programs.

The details of the bill include:

Length of Paid Leave
Connecticut employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. If an employee experiences pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity then the employee would be eligible for 14 weeks.

Similarly, state programs in Massachusetts and Washington state provide 12 weeks of paid leave. Washington also provides an additional two weeks for serious pregnancy-related health conditions. However, in Massachusetts employees are eligible for 20 weeks of paid leave for their own serious health condition.

Reasons for Paid Leave
Connecticut employees would be able to use paid family and medical leave for five reasons:

  • 1. Care for a new child (birth, adoption, foster)
  • 2. Care for family member with serious health condition
  • 3. Care for own serious health condition
  • 4. Qualifying exigency arising out of family member being on active duty
  • 5. To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor

New York, Washington state, and Massachusetts allow reasons one through four. Connecticut would be the only state in the country to allow for paid leave due to donating bone marrow or an organ.

Definition of Family Member

Connecticut’s definition of a family member would align with that of New Jersey and include:

  • Child
  • Parent
  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships

Benefit Amount

Beginning January 1, 2022, the weekly benefit for Connecticut employees will be 95% of 40 times the minimum wage and 60% on earnings above the minimum wage. The maximum weekly benefit cannot exceed 60 times the minimum wage which is the equivalent of $780 on a $13 minimum wage, $840 on a $14 minimum wage, and $900 on a $15 minimum wage.

Connecticut’s benefits align similarly with other states. In California the maximum weekly benefit is $1,252, $1,000 in the District of Columbia, and $850 in Massachusetts.

Employees Covered
In Connecticut paid leave will apply to private sector employers with one or more employees. Self-employed employees and sole-proprietors have the ability to opt-in to the program. In addition, non-union state and local government employees are covered. Unionized workers will have the ability to collectively bargain and become covered.

Similarly all private sector employers are covered in state paid leave programs in California, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Washington state.

Program Funding
In Connecticut both personal disability leave and family care leave will be funded by the employee only. The withholding rate is 0.5 (one-half of one) percent on earnings up to the Social Security wage base.

For comparison, other states fund paid leave programs through either the employee only or a combination of the employee and the employer. In California, both personal disability and family care are funded by the employee only at one percent of a worker’s first $118,371 in wages. Additionally in Rhode Island, both personal disability and family care are funded by the employee only at 1.1 percent of a worker’s first $71,000 in wages.