Gov. Ned Lamont announced in a press release a new website aimed at helping Connecticut residents navigate the state’s paid family and medical leave program, which is set to being in January of 2021.
“No one should have to choose between caring for their family when they need it most, and paying their bills,” Governor Lamont said in a press statement. “This program was put together thoughtfully to ensure that working families in our state don’t have to make that tough choice.”
The program, which will be funded with a .5 percent payroll deduction from Connecticut employees, will provide up to $780 per week for FMLA leave, depending on pay, for up to 12 weeks. The payout will rise as Connecticut’s minimum wage increases to $15 per hour.
FMLA payments, however, can fluctuate depending on how much revenue is brought in through the payroll deduction.
Although the payroll deductions begin in 2021, workers will not be able to utilize the program until 2022. The pre-funding period will help build the trust fund’s coffers before making payments.
Leave can be taken for medical reasons or to care for any blood relative or person who is like family, according to the statute. The individual must have earned at least $2,325 in their highest quarter and are either employed or have been employed within the last 12 weeks.
The program, which is estimated to cost $18.6 million per year, is run by the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, a quasi-public entity with Andrea Barton Reeves serving as chief executive officer.
Reeves was selected in January of 2020 to head the Paid Leave Authority and will receive a salary of $210,000.
The 15-member board overseeing the Paid Leave Authority is chaired by Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Josh Geballe and includes appointees by the governor, legislative leaders and the comptroller.
Connecticut paid FMLA program was passed in 2019 and signed into law by Gov. Lamont.
Businesses pushed back against the legislation, which applies to businesses with more than one employee, a massive expansion from federal FMLA laws that apply to businesses with 50 or more employees.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association says the mandate will “cripple” small businesses, because they will be hard pressed to find replacement employees during leave absences.
“The last thing we should be doing is adding to the growing cost of running a business in this state,” said Eric Gjede, Vice President of Legislative Outreach for CBIA.
The legislation was pushed by Connecticut’s labor unions and a variety of organizations such as the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, the Working Families Party and Connecticut Voices for Children.
Connecticut’s labor unions have three representatives on the 14-member board: CT AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano, SEIU Organizer Eva Bermudez Zimmerman and Connecticut Education Association employee Justin Zartman.
“The launching of this comprehensive new website is a significant step forward in our goal to help employers, employees and healthcare providers access these resources, and to provide a gateway to vital information for everyone to better understand their rights, roles and responsibilities in this new program,” Reeves said.