Up to Three Months Off with Paid FMLA Proposal
The Labor Committee continues to find ways to make it harder for job creators to stay and compete in Connecticut.
This week, the committee held a public hearing on a proposal that would create a massive and expensive new workplace mandate that would apply to every business with two or more employees.
HB 6932 allows any employee to opt into a program that would grant up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year, and provide up to 100% (with a maximum of $1,000 per week) of an employee’s pay for the duration of the leave period.
The program would be funded by deducting the wages of employees opting into the program. Employers would have no choice but to participate in the program, and would be expected to deduct the contributions from employee paychecks and provide job protection for any employee during their leave period – whether they could afford to or not.
It’s a costly proposal in many ways, beginning with the 12-week holes it would create in businesses’ operations by employees out on leave.
It’s not a free ride for employees. Anyone that opts into the program will have to pay for it through paycheck deductions. Naturally, the proposal is silent on just how much this will cost participating employees.
It’s expensive for employers. Given the addition of job-protection measures in the bill, even the smallest of employers will be required to hold a job open for a participating employee using the paid leave program.
And similar to job protections in the current unpaid FMLA law, employers would have to continue providing non-wage benefits to the employees on leave. That means allowing vacation and other leave to accumulate, and paying health benefits. This is an expensive burden for small and large employers alike.
It’s expensive for taxpayers. The bill charges the state’s Labor Department with a number of tasks to run the program. The department needs to accept employee applications into the program, collect the necessary documentation related to the need for leave, investigate fraudulent activity, hold hearings to resolve disputes, etc.
Hundreds of new state employees will be needed to perform these tasks, along with new computer technology and a place to house the new employees. Taxpayers will be on the hook for those long-term costs.
Of course, all of this could be avoided if the Labor Committee just updated its view of the workplace with the way employers have been evolving for the past few years.
Why not provide financial incentives for businesses to adopt paid leave policies that work for them?
The problem is, proponents want the mandate because in their eyes, government solutions are best. It’s one more way Connecticut is going in the opposite direction of the rest of the country, and then left puzzled as to why our economic recovery has been slower.
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