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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Senate Leaders Applaud House Passage of Paid Family and Medical Leave

CT will now join 183 other countries, six states, and Washington, D.C.

HARTFORD, CT (May 31, 2019) - Today, leaders in the Connecticut State Senate applauded passage of paid family and medical leave in the House of Representatives. The statewide paid family and medical leave program will provide necessary benefits to Connecticut residents in order to care for a newborn or a sick family member.

“No longer will Connecticut families have to choose between the necessity of going to work due to the inability to live for even a short time without a paycheck and caring for a newborn, a sick family member, or even neglecting their own health,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “This long-overdue, strong paid family medical leave program is necessary and beneficial for all Connecticut workers in our modern economy. Thank you Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Majority Leader Matt Ritter for bringing this measure to a vote in the House. Once again a special thank you to House Chairwoman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee Robyn Porter for her relentless work to make paid family and medical leave a reality.”

“Connecticut will finally catch up with our neighboring states and the rest of the modern world and establish paid family and medical leave,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “I want to thank the leadership in the House for getting this critical policy for Connecticut families across the finish line. Paid family and medical leave will keep our state competitive with the region, uphold our commitment to workers, and reaffirm Connecticut as a great place to live and raise a family.”

“A paid family and medical leave program will prove to be one of the greatest successes of our state legislature,” said Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury). “Everyone--Democrat, Republican, or unaffiliated voter--has had to take care of a family member with a serious illness or has welcomed a new baby into the world. This program will cover all workers, provide a good wage replacement, and contain an inclusive definition of family. Now, working people will not have to choose between a paycheck and taking care of a family member. Connecticut will be an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

State governments across the United States are beginning to enact family and medical leave programs to catch up with other modern countries which have had similar programs on the books for years. According to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization, 183 of the 185 countries and territories surveyed provide some sort of paid maternity leave. Across the 41 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union, the United States is the only nation that does not provide any paid leave for new parents.

In addition, the program reflects the needs of the changing dynamic of working households in the United States. The percentage of two-parent households in which both parents work full time was 31% in 1970 and increased to 46% in 2015. Similarly, the percentage of two-parent households in which the dad is full time and the mom is not employed has shrunk from 46% in 1970 to 26% in 2015.

The bill would have Connecticut join California, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington, which all have paid family and medical leave programs. The details of the bill include:

Length of Paid Leave

Connecticut employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. If an employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity then the employee would be eligible for 14 weeks.

Similarly, state programs in Massachusetts and Washington state provide 12 weeks of paid leave. Washington also provides an additional two weeks for serious pregnancy-related health conditions. However, in Massachusetts employees are eligible for 20 weeks of paid leave for their own serious health condition.

Reasons for Paid Leave

Connecticut employees would be able to use paid family and medical leave for five reasons:

  • 1. Care for a new child (birth, adoption, foster)
  • 2. Care for family member with serious health condition
  • 3. Care for own serious health condition
  • 4. Qualifying exigency arising out of family member being on active duty
  • 5. To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor

New York, Washington state, and Massachusetts allow reasons one through four. Connecticut would be the only state in the country to allow for paid leave due to donating bone marrow or an organ.

Definition of Family Member

Connecticut’s definition of a family member would align with that of New Jersey and include:

  • Child
  • Parent
  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild

Individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships

Benefit Amount

Beginning January 1, 2022, the weekly benefit for Connecticut employees will be 95% of 40 times the minimum wage and 60% on earnings above the minimum wage. The maximum weekly benefit can not exceed 60 times the minimum wage which is the equivalent of $780 on a $13 minimum wage, $840 on a $14 minimum wage, and $900 on a $15 minimum wage.

Connecticut’s benefits align similarly with other states. The maximum weekly benefit in California is $1,252, $1,000 in the District of Columbia, and $850 in Massachusetts.

Employees Covered

In Connecticut paid leave will apply to private sector employers with one or more employees. Self-employed employees and sole-proprietors have the ability to opt-in to the program. In addition, non-union state and local government employees are covered. Unionized workers will have the ability to collectively bargain and become covered.

Similarly all private sector employers are covered in state paid leave programs in California, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Washington state.

Program Funding

In Connecticut both personal disability leave and family care leave will be funded by the employee only. The withholding rate is 0.5 (one-half of one) percent on earnings up to the Social Security wage base.

For comparison, other states fund paid leave programs through either the employee only or a combination of the employee and the employer. In California, both personal disability and family care are funded by the employee only at one percent of a worker’s first $118,371 in wages. Additionally in Rhode Island, both personal disability and family care are funded by the employee only at 1.1 percent of a worker’s first $71,000 in wages.

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