On June 25, 2019, the State of Connecticut passed legislation to create the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program with the signing of Connecticut Public Act 19-25 and the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFMLA), as amended sections 232 through 235 of Public Act 19-117.
The Connecticut paid leave program will be administered through the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority. The Authority is made up of a 15-member board of appointed individuals representing a variety of community interests and subject matter expertise.
Connecticut Paid Family Leave Law Overview
This new Connecticut paid leave law gives employees access to paid leave, or sick time, for qualifying life events covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA), and the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act.
When Does the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Begin?
The PFMLA will officially begin January 2021 with the start of program funding from eligible employees. Eligible employers will collect a payroll deduction of .05% of gross wages through their payroll software from employees and remit those amounts as contributions to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority Trust Fund.
Individuals who are self-employed or are sole proprietors can begin making contributions to the CT Paid Leave Authority trust fund at this time as well.
Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave vs. Connecticut Paid Sick Leave
A common question coming up is "How is Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave different than Connecticut Paid Sick Leave?" Here are a few quick differences that will be helpful in differentiating between the two laws:
Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Generally, employers with 1 or more employees must comply
- Employee paid leave is only for qualifying events through other legislation (i.e. FMLA, CT FMLA, and Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act)
- Payment for leave is covered by the CT Paid Leave Authority trust fund which is funded by deductions from the state's workforce
- Total sick time or leave accrued per year is up to 12 weeks with an additional 2 weeks when certain qualifying conditions are met
Connecticut Paid Sick Leave (2012)
- Generally, employers with 50 or more employees must comply
- Paid leave is generally provided for any sick time
- Payment for leave is covered by the employer
- Total sick time or leave accrued per year is up to 40 hours
Connecticut Paid Leave Employer Compliance
Virtually all private-sector employers in Connecticut with one or more employees are considered eligible and need to comply with this sick leave law by providing paid family and medical leave.
However, employers may apply for a PFMLA exemption if they intend to offer the same sick time and leave benefits to all employees through a private plan. To apply for this exemption, employers must have approval by the majority of employees, and the private plan must offer to all employees the same rights, protections, and benefits as the Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) program.
Employers were to begin registering as of November 23, 2020, with the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority. Employer registration requires an established business Connecticut State Identity and ensures that employers receive needed information and resources.
Starting in the fall / winter of 2021 employees may begin applying for and taking job-protected leave under the PFMLA (or Federal Family and Medical Leave Act) while approved claims may start being paid on January 1, 2022. During this leave of absence, the employer must continue paying non-wage benefits while the employee also must continue to make contributions.
Employers must notify their employees at the start of employment and each year thereafter of their right to PFLMA. It’s also suggested employers update their employee handbooks and HR policies in their HR software.
Connecticut Paid Leave Law Employee Eligibility
Sick leave eligibility for employees can be broken down into two core categories:
- Minimum Pay Requirement: To be eligible, an employee must have earned at least $2,325 in the highest-earning quarter within the five most recently completed quarters (about $750 / per month).
- Employment Requirement: Only one of the following additional requirements / criteria must be met below to be considered eligible for paid family and medical leave, the individual:
- is currently employed by a Connecticut employer
- was employed by a Connecticut employer during the 12 weeks immediately preceding the application for paid leave.
- is self-employed or a sole proprietor that is a Connecticut resident who has enrolled in the paid leave program
Factors that would exclude someone from qualifying or becoming eligible for Connecticut paid leave can include unionized employees in the federal and state government or municipalities as well as local and regional members of Boards of Education.
Qualifying Life Events for Connecticut Paid Leave
The following reasons are considered qualifying events that allow an employee to take paid time off through the PFMLA:
- An employee can’t work due to their own health condition or caring for a family member with a serious health condition
- Upon the birth of a child of the employee
- Upon the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care
- Organ donation
- Family violence
- To seek medical or psychological care, to seek care from a victim services organization, to relocate, or to participate in any civil or criminal proceeding relating to family violence.
- Military family leave
- To care for a military family member who is injured during active duty
- Qualifying exigency, arising out of the fact that the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in the armed forces.
Note: a family member is defined by Connecticut law as a spouse, sibling (in-laws), daughter or son (in-laws), grandparent, grandchild, or parent; or, an individual related to the employee by blood or affinity, and whose close association with the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships. The important item of note is that Connecticut’s affinity portion of the definition makes family members much broader than most other leave legislation.
Connecticut Paid Leave & COVID-19 Qualifications
There has also been an update to the information regarding COVID-19 and Connecticut Paid Family Medical Leave Eligibility. COVID-19, by default, is not considered a serious health condition. Essentially, being exposed or diagnosed is not enough.
To qualify for Connecticut Paid Leave benefits as a result of COVID-19, an employee must provide medical proof from a health care provider that, as a result of COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, the employee:
- Requires an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility
- Is incapacitated (unable to work) for more than three consecutive days and requires ongoing medical treatment
- Has chronic conditions that are exacerbated by COVID-19, causing occasional periods when the employee is incapacitated, resulting in treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year
Employees may also receive Connecticut Paid Leave benefits because they need to care for a family member who was exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19. However, the family member's condition must also place them in one of the previous three outlined categories.
Connecticut Paid Leave Program Benefits
Eligible employees that qualify are provided with Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) program benefits that include:
- 12 weeks paid leave
- 2 additional weeks when an employee experiences a serious health condition that results in incapacitation that occurs during pregnancy
This paid leave or PFMLA sick time benefits may be taken as consecutive leave, or in certain circumstances, intermittently. A great time and attendance solution is invaluable when it comes to tracking paid leave benefits.
Calculating Connecticut Paid Time Pay Rates
These rates are not of the utmost importance to the employer because employers are not required to calculate potential wage benefits for employees (like unemployment benefits). Instead, these will be calculated and paid by the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority and the trust fund it established.
Employees are paid a benefit rate that will be based on two scales:
- If the wages are less than or equal to the Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40 the benefits pay rate will be equal to 95% of an employee’s average weekly wages.
- If wages exceed the Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40, the employee’s benefit rate will be 95% of the employee’s average weekly wage up to the Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40 PLUS 60% of the amount the average weekly wage exceeds the Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40. The benefit rate is capped at 60 times the Connecticut minimum wage.
As such, these total calculated rates will increase with the scheduled changes to the state minimum wage law. The PFMLA also stipulates that these benefits pay rates may be reduced if there is insufficient revenue.
Employers can find more information at the Connecticut Paid Leave website, as well as our Connecticut Paid Family Leave Overview. Still, looking for more information on how these updates will affect your business? Set up a consultation to find out how we can help your organization manage the Connecticut Paid Leave updates and help you achieve your business goals.
Connecticut Paid Family Medical Leave Catch-Up Period
The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority recently discovered that there was an issue with the employer notification system for employee leave claim status updates. Employers were not being notified of status updates. Until the situation is resolved, employers can contact their employees or email CTPL.firstname.lastname@example.org with the employee’s name and claim number for status and approval updates.
The Connecticut Department of Labor has authorized a temporary catch-up period until March 31st. During this time, employers may deduct an additional 1% from employee wages (for a total of 1.5%) to make up for contributions that they did not make in 2021. After March 31, 2022, only the statutory 0.5% may be deducted.
How to Implement the Connecticut Paid Leave Program for Your Business
Unfortunately, our webinar series on the new Connecticut Paid Leave Law has concluded, but we made sure to record the entire thing for any Connecticut employers that still are not up to speed on the new legislation. You can view our webinar recording on the New Connecticut Paid Leave Law any time you want by clicking here.