May 22, 2019

Senator Haskell Proudly Votes For Paid Family And Medical Leave


HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) proudly voted for legislation bringing paid family and medical leave to Connecticut. Connecticut residents would gain access to benefits allowing them to take time off work to care for a newborn child or a sick family member under the bill. The program will be entirely employee-funded, not requiring any employer contribution.

“With this program, we join our neighbors in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in recognizing that the world is changing, and no one should be forced to go back to work when they are still recovering from an illness or caring for a new baby,” said Sen. Haskell. “As we debated this bill, I thought about my own mom. After I was born, she had just two weeks before she had to go back to work. One quarter of mothers in the United States shared that exact same experience. In our advanced economy, no one should have to choose between career and family. This policy is self-sustaining and financed by employee contributions. It will incentivize future workers to choose Connecticut as they are debating where to start their careers and their families. Paid medical leave represents a major step forward and the beginning of a new chapter in our state’s history.”

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. Modern families rely on working parents, leading to challenges for many families in times of pregnancy or illness.

Connecticut joins Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, Washington and the District of Columbia in implementing these new programs.

Sustainable Funding

In Connecticut, personal disability leave and family care leave will be funded solely by employees. The program will be funded by a withholding rate of 0.5 percent, or one-half of one percent, on earnings up to the Social Security wage base. This is similar to other programs in other states. California funds its program with a 1 percent withholding rate on workers’ first $118,371 in wages; Rhode Island funds its with the first 1.1 percent of a worker’s first $71,000 in wages.

Who Benefits

Under the paid family and medical leave program, employees in the state will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child, a family member with a serious health condition, or to care for their own serious health condition. Additionally, employees can claim leave if they meet qualifying standards when an employee is on active duty, or if they are to serve as organ or bone marrow donors. Connecticut would be the first state to allow paid leave for such a donation.

Under the legislation, “family member” refers to a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or an individual related by blood. It also refers to someone whose “close association to an employee is equivalent of a family relationship.”

Employee Coverage

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, the weekly benefit Connecticut employees can receive is 95 percent of 40 times the minimum wage and 60 percent on earnings above the minimum wage. The maximum benefit cannot exceed 60 times the minimum wage, meaning the maximum benefit will be $780 in 2022 when the minimum wage is $13, $840 when the minimum wage increases to $14 later that year, and $900 in 2023 when the minimum wage increases to $15.

These benefits are similar to other states, which implemented maximum benefits ranging from $850 to $1,252.

Paid leave in Connecticut will apply to private sector employers with at least one employee, while self-employed and sole-proprietor employees can opt-in. Non-union state and local government employees are also covered, while unionized workers can collectively bargain to become covered. This is similar to paid leave programs in California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Washington.

The bill will now go to the House.