With the six-month grace period for businesses to register and make contributions toward Connecticut’s paid family and medical leave program coming to an end, the PFML Authority says that only 19,000 businesses have not yet registered.
However, that number includes businesses that may not be required to participate.
“As of today, we have had 110,458 registrants come through the CT Paid Leave registration portal,” said Andrea Comer, Communications Director for the PFML Authority, in an email. “Based on state records, we believe there may be approximately 19,000 businesses in Connecticut that have not yet registered, although we know that this list includes sole proprietors and self-employed individuals, who are not required to participate.”
The latest number of registered participants marks a big change from earlier in the year when it was reported that 44,000 businesses had not yet registered for the program and had not yet implemented the .5 percent payroll deduction paid for by employees out of their paychecks.
Under the terms of the law, Connecticut businesses were supposed to be registered and begin taking the payroll deduction in January of 2021. However, in response to the pandemic, businesses were allowed a grace period until the end of June, after which the back payments would fall on the employer.
Those businesses who were behind in registering and making the deduction were allowed to deduct up to 1.5 percent from employee pay in order to catch up on their contributions.
Even the State of Connecticut had trouble making the deductions, requiring a software change in order to make the payroll deduction for non-unionized state employees. The Office of the State Comptroller said the deductions began being made for state employees in April.
However, the 110,000 businesses registered for the program surpasses the goal set by the PFML Authority of registering 104,000 businesses.
Comer says that besides the sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals that may account for some of the remaining 19,000 businesses, some businesses may have also closed permanently due to the pandemic.
There are also businesses that have their home offices based outside Connecticut or outside of the country.
“Finally, some of the entities may be based outside of Connecticut, and thus, have not been on the receiving end of our outreach efforts,” Comer said. “We are taking a scaffolded approach to communicating with those entities.”
Although Connecticut employees are paying into the program throughout 2021, employees will not be able to start using the program until 2022.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave program provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for either medical reasons or to care for any blood relative or a friend who is like a family member.
The program constituted an expansion of businesses that were previously required to provide family and medical leave. Under federal law, businesses with 50 or more employees were required to provide unpaid family and medical leave. Employees were able to use vacation or sick time during that period in order to be paid.
Connecticut’s program reduced the number of employees to two or more and set up the PFML trust fund to collect payroll deductions and use the money offer pay for family and medical leave claims. The program, which was opposed by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, was signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont in 2019.
**Meghan Portfolio contributed to this article**