A state task force continues to work on a legislative proposal for a new program that would provide wages to employees who need to leave work for reasons similar to those allowed under family and medical leave (FMLA).  

Currently, Connecticut’s FMLA is an unpaid form of leave that applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. 

Although the full proposal of the Family Medical Leave Insurance Task Force is still being developed, the group has approved numerous recommendations they intend to make to legislators in the 2015 legislative session. 

The recommendations largely disregard concerns raised by business representatives on the task force--who continue to point out that such a proposal will have a tremendous impact on businesses’ operations and costs. 

Among other things, the task force has voted to:

  • Apply the paid leave to all Connecticut employers, not just those with 50 or more employees needed to trigger the requirements under FMLA 
  • Make an employee eligible for the leave once they have earned $9,300 in a 12-month period – even if some of the earnings were from a different employer
  • Provide employees out on leave 66% of their base weekly salary – something that would encourage employees take longer periods of leave away from work
  • Allow  up to six weeks of paid leave per year

And while the group is initially recommending making the program entirely employee-funded, employers still face costs for administering the leave, hiring replacement workers, and continued payment of non-wage employee benefits to those on leave.

Connecticut’s high business costs are among the state’s biggest competitive challenges, as pointed out in the latest CNBC America’s Top States for Business rankings. Yet advocates for organized labor are already complaining that the recommendations don’t go far enough. 

A representative for the AFL-CIO noted that paid FMLI will be a top issue for them in the 2015 legislative session. And an official of AFSCME–a union representing both public- and private-sector employees, said the proposal is flawed because it does not include “some substantial employer financial contribution toward a paid leave model.” 

Connecticut businesses have very good reason to be concerned about potential legislation in the 2015 legislative session relating to paid family leave.

In addition to asking legislative candidates about their position on the issue, businesses should contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede (860.244.1931; eric.gjede@cbia.com@egjede) to sign up for alerts as more information becomes available.