June 7, 2017

Bye Makes Impassioned Plea For Paid Family & Medical Leave

State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) led a heartfelt and impassioned 90-minute Democratic discussion in the Senate chamber this evening on the need for a paid family and medical leave policy in Connecticut before the bill was tabled due to a lack of Republican support.

Sen. Bye debated the merits of Senate Bill 1, “An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave,” an issue which has been a priority for Sen. Bye and other Democrats for many years and which recent polls show has the support of a majority of small business owners in Connecticut.

“This bill provides paid medical leave for employees who must miss work due to a personal illness, to care for a newborn, or to care for a sick family member,” Sen. Bye told her fellow Democrats in the Senate chamber. “These are the family values that all of us share. But the question before us now is, do we value them enough to actually support a bill this year? What we do in the legislature is we translate our values into public policy to make people’s lives better. But will we actually vote for it?”

With no Republican support for the measure, the bill was eventually tabled after 90 minutes of Democratic debate that included personal stories by Democratic state senators stretching back decades recalling the need to take time off from work to care for family members.

“I’m disappointed that so many elected officials did not take a public position on this bill tonight, but at the same time I believe that the personal stories that were told provide some of the most compelling reasons for supporting paid family and medical leave in Connecticut’s very near future,” Sen. Bye said.

Though the bill is now dead for the 2017 legislative session, Senate Bill 1 offered:

  • Eight weeks of PAID family and medical leave in 2020; 10 weeks in 2022; and 12 weeks in 2024
  • Employees are eligible for paid FMLA immediately upon employment, contingent on certain past wage earnings
  • Employees are eligible for job protection after six months of employment and 500 hours of work at that employer
  • Payroll deduction must be less than one-half of 1 percent, to be paid for by the employee, not the employer
  • The payroll deduction applies to a salary cap equal to the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cap (currently $127,000 per year)
  • Paid FMLA varies depending on weekly pay: it would pay 100 percent first $385; 80 percent to $769; and 66 percent over $770
  • Weekly payouts would not to exceed $1,000
  • Employers cannot retaliate against those seeking paid FMLA
  • Applies to businesses with two or more employees
  • Employers with 50+ employees would offer a maximum of 8 weeks of paid leave and 12 weeks job protection in any 12-month period
  • Employers with 2-49 employees would offer a maximum of 8 weeks paid leave and 8 weeks job protection in any 12-month period
  • State and municipal employees could opt-in to the program via collective bargaining