Revived Workplace Proposal Aims to Help… but Misses
Recent reports indicate the likely revival of a proposal in the 2015 General Assembly that, while well intentioned, could increase the cost of state government, the difficulty of doing business in Connecticut, and actually hurt the very people it’s supposed to help.
A task force is wrapping up its work on recommending the design of a paid family and medical leave program in the state.
Unlike the current FMLA, the paid program would apply to all employers in the state, and would allow claimants to receive up to 66% of their pay for up to six weeks of medical leave from their employer.
In what should be a red flag for state legislators, a similar proposal in Washington State was estimated to cost $1.2 billion per two-year period to administer—a cost that has forced Washington to back away from implementing the program.
What’s more, current staff in Connecticut’s Labor Department is prohibited by law from administering such a program in addition to their current job duties—which means that the state would have to hire hundreds of new state employees to run the program.
With Connecticut facing yet another significant budget deficit, it makes little sense to mandate a new program that would increase state spending, the size of state government, and taxpayers’ bills.
What’s more, the additional administrative costs and burden on employers could force them to consider how they might have to adjust in other ways to accommodate the mandate—including making potential adjustments to wages, hours or other benefits.
While advocates will be pushing hard for the return of this proposal, lawmakers need to think deeply about whether legislation of this type truly helps the people they are intended to help—or act as another hindrance creating more opportunities for the people of Connecticut.
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