Proposal Expands Eligibility for State’s FMLA
One reason for Connecticut’s image as a high-business-cost state is its habit of imposing legislative and regulatory mandates on employers that often exceed neighboring states’ or federal standards.
While some of these mandates only add minimal costs, they all add up to make it harder for Connecticut businesses to compete in national and international markets.
The 2014 legislative session has no shortage of bills aiming to add more mandates on businesses.
A top example is HB 5283, which will expand the state’s family and medical leave law to allow employees to use it to care for extended family members—including siblings, grandparents and grandchildren who do not share an “in loco parentis” relationship (that is, the employee has not assumed parental obligations and responsibilities).
Current state law, which applies to employers with 75 or more employees, requires businesses to provide unpaid leave to an employee for up to 16 work weeks in a two-year period while the employee deals with his or her own serious illness, or that of a child, parent or spouse.
The Federal FMLA law, which applies to employers with 50 or more employees, however, does not include caring for siblings, grandparents and grandchildren that do not share an in loco parentis relationship. Adding more family members to the broader state FMLA law increases the cost and burdens on employers with 75 or more employees.
Proponents often claim that expanding the state FMLA law isn’t really a concern to employers because they say it is “free”—that is, it doesn’t cost businesses. FMLA is predominately, absent employer policy, a form of unpaid leave.
But while FMLA is often unpaid, it’s far from “free” to the employer.
When an employee goes out on FMLA, employers have to hire temporary workers, request other employees take on extra work, and continue to provide benefits to the absent employee.
And because the recession has forced many businesses down to a skeleton crew, even one absent employee can cause huge losses—in time, dollars and productivity.
Since federal FMLA applies to businesses (with 50 or more employees ) throughout out the United States, it puts all businesses on a level playing field in terms of the cost of compliance.
With each additional family member added to the broader state law, it becomes more expensive to do business in Connecticut and in other states.
It’s time for our elected officials to question whether each one of their proposed business mandates so we can #MoveUpCT.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @egjede
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