You may have noticed that starting back in 2020, there was a little less in your paycheck each week. This was due to Connecticut enacting paid family and medical leave legislation. Each pay period since, one-half of one percent (0.5%) of your paycheck has been deducted and contributed to the Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund.
As of January 1, 2022, Connecticut employees may take up to twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave during any twelve-month period, provided that leave is for one of the following reasons:
- The birth of an employee’s child;
- The addition of a foster child to an employee’s family;
- To care for a family member with a serious medical condition;
- To recover from an employee’s own serious health condition;
- To serve as a bone marrow donor; or
- If a family member is called to active duty.
Family member, for purposes of paid leave, includes:
- Biological siblings, half-siblings, stepsiblings, adopted siblings, foster siblings, siblings-in-law;
- Biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, stepparents, parents-in-law;
- Legal guardians;
- Grandparents and grandchildren; or
- Any other individual whom the employee shares a familial-like relationship with.
To be eligible, an employee must have earned at least $2,325 in their highest earning quarter in the past four quarters, and either be presently employed by a qualifying employer or have been employed by a qualifying employer in the 12 weeks immediately preceding their need for leave. A “qualifying employer” is an employer with at least one employee. Thus, sole proprietors are eligible!
Unfortunately however, state and municipal employees subject to collective bargaining agreements are not eligible unless their union negotiated for their inclusion. In addition, individuals who are currently receiving other wage-replacement funds, such as workers’ compensation, social security, or unemployment, are not eligible to receive paid family and medical leave benefits.
Determining your benefit amount can be confusing. An employee is eligible to receive 95% of their weekly pay up to forty times the minimum wage (currently $600). If an employee earns more than $600 per week, they can additionally receive 60% of that excess income. For example, assume employee A earns $52,000 per year, or $1,000 per week. Employee A’s paid leave benefit will be 95% of $600 (forty times the minimum wage), which is $570 plus 65% of $400 (employee A’s excess income over $600 per week), which is $240. $570 plus $240 equals $810. Therefore, employee A’s weekly benefit would be $810.
If your employer currently provides paid leave benefits that are better than those provided by Connecticut’s new paid family and medical leave legislation, do not panic! Employers are still free to provide greater benefits to their employees. In other words, the new legislation is the floor, not the ceiling.
At the federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act remains “the law of the land.” Thus, job protection is still mandated. Upon return from your family and medical leave, your employer must reinstate you to either the position you held prior to taking paid leave, or a position of equal seniority, including pay, bonuses, and benefits.
If the need to take paid family and medical leave is foreseeable, you must give your employer 30 days’ notice of your intent to take leave.
Pursuant to regulations expected to be enacted by the Connecticut legislature in early August, 2022, if you are taking leave to care for a non-biological family member, you must submit a letter to your employer indicating your relationship with the individual is the equivalent of a family relationship.
After giving your employer notice, you may file a request for benefits with the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority either online at https://ctpaidleave.org/s/for-claims?language=en_US or by calling 877-499-8606.
According to a recent post by the Connecticut News Junkie, in the first six months of paid family and medical leave distributions, a total of $81 million in benefits have been paid to more than 16,300 Connecticut workers, with the average weekly benefit amount being $562.
If you believe that your employer is in violation of their obligations under the Act, the regulations expected to be enacted in early August allow employees to either bring a civil cause of action within 180 days of the alleged violation or file a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Labor.
For more information, visit the FAQs page on the Connecticut Paid Leave website.
Cramer & Anderson attorneys are here to assist you with filing for Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, or with filing a cause of action against your employer.