Several of our clients have requested assistance with navigating and complying with the new Connecticut Paid Leave Act and Connecticut FMLA, starting January 1, 2022. How are they different? To start, here is a broad definition:
Family Medical Leave was put in place to protect employees from losing their jobs due to absences for certain medical or family conditions – unpaid job protection leave, as well as expand the obligations of Connecticut employers and eligibility of employees.
The Paid Leave Act was enacted to provide income replacement for employees who miss work for certain medical or family conditions.
Below, we’ve provided answers to some of the questions our clients are asking:
We employ less than 75 workers, so we’ve never had to deal with Connecticut FMLA leave. What are our new obligations?
Sweeping changes were made to the Connecticut Family Leave Act effective January 1, 2022. Now, with few exceptions, almost every employer with at least one Connecticut employee will be responsible for administering Connecticut FMLA.
We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the CT FMLA eligibility and other requirements, review your current policies to ensure they comply with the new legislation, and update your employee handbooks. Train your supervisors and ensure that they inform HR when an employee is out, as HR will need to determine whether absences are eligible to be qualified as FMLA leave.
Your eligible employees will now be allowed to take job-protected leave away from work for certain medical or family conditions. FMLA does not require paid leave, only job protection.
Employers should have a policy in their handbook that speaks to whether or not an employee on FMLA will be required to use any company paid time off in excess of two weeks. Note that the new regulations allow the employee a choice to reserve up to two weeks of paid time if they wish, even if they are out of work for several weeks on FMLA.
How does Connecticut FMLA change in 2022?
Employees will now be eligible to take job-protected leave:
- after three months of employment
- with no requirement for number of hours worked
- the amount of eligible leave is 12 weeks in a 12-month period
- Exceptions: an additional two weeks, for a total of 14 weeks for incapacitation during pregnancy, and 26 weeks for military caregiver leave
Under what circumstances might an employee be eligible for Connecticut Paid Leave, beginning in January?
Employees will be able to apply to the Paid Leave Authority for income replacement for absences due to:
Medical Leave – to receive treatment for, or recover from, their own serious health condition, including an organ or bone marrow donor
Caregiver Leave* – to care for a family member* with a serious health condition
Bonding Leave – to bond with a newborn, or newly placed adopted or foster child, or time needed for pre-placement activities
Military Caregiver Leave – to care for an injured family member on active military duty
Qualified Exigency Leave – to attend to duties associated with parent, child or spouse’s overseas active duty
Family Violence Leave – attend to issues associated with directly experiencing family violence
*Caregiver leave will now be applicable to the employee’s parent, spouse, son or daughter of any age, sibling, grandparent or grandchild AND those who have an “affinity” relationship to the employee. Affinity relationship is defined as someone related to the employee by blood or affinity, whose close association of the employee is equivalent to those family relationships.
When an employee is out of work due to a qualifying reason, will we inform the Paid Leave Authority to start paying them?
No. It is the employee’s responsibility to submit an application to the Paid Leave Authority and to inform their employer that they have filed for benefits. The employer will then need to provide the Authority with corresponding information, including verifying dates of absence, providing salary information and advising whether any part of the absence was or will be paid. From there, the Authority and their insurance provider (Aflac), will determine eligibility, and calculate and pay the benefits.
How does the employee get paid?
Aflac will issue the benefits via electronic deposit, or via a “value card”. Payments will be made on Tuesdays, two weeks in arrears. A formula will be used to calculate the pay to the employee, using the current minimum wage, the employee’s hourly pay and the number of hours worked.
However, the pay will not exceed 60 times of the current minimum wage (currently $780 per week), and the pay will not exceed 100% of the employee’s regular wages. The Authority will also take into consideration any paid time off (vacation, sick, or combined PTO) that the employer paid.