Bipartisan support has emerged for reforming the state's paid family and medical leave program and address the mandate's disproportionate impact on small businesses.

State Rep. John Hampton (D- Weatogue) sent a letter Feb. 10 to the leadership of the Labor and Public Employees Committee requesting a series of reforms.

Hampton asked committee co-chairs Sen. Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) and Rep. Robyn Porter (D-New Haven) and ranking members Sen. Craig Miner (R-Litchfield) and Rep. Joe Poletta (R-Watertown) to take up legislation.

"While I appreciate the merits and goals of the program, I believe these changes would help to make paid FMLA more workable, especially for small businesses," he wrote.

"The proposed changes should include making it optional for companies with 30 or less employees, reinstate the time of service requirement to qualify for benefits, cap repeated usage of the program at 35 weeks over five years, and require intermittent leave be taken in full day increments."

Rich Benefits

The General Assembly passed far-reaching paid FMLA legislation last year, creating the richest benefits of any leave program in the country.

The mandate applies to all private sector businesses with as few as one employee.

" I believe these changes would help make paid FMLA more workable, especially for small businesses."

Rep. John Hampton

From Jan. 1, 2021, the wages of all employees in the state—excluding unionized state or municipal workers—will be taxed to fund the program.

After Jan. 1, 2022, workers will be eligible to take 12 to 16 weeks of paid leave to care for their own or extended family members' illnesses or injuries. 

Small Business 'Relief'

CBIA's Eric Gjede welcomed Hampton's letter, saying it reflected the broader sentiment of the state's small business community over the mandate.

"The 2019 legislative session was a tough one for small businesses as these one-size-fits-all mandates like paid FMLA make it extremely difficult for them to compete," Gjede said.

"Small businesses are operating in an increasingly difficult environment and they really need the legislature to provide some relief.

"One-size-fits-all mandates like paid FMLA make it extremely difficult for small businesses to compete."

CBIA's Eric Gjede

"We urge Sen. Kushner and Rep. Porter to listen to these concerns and raise a bill before the committee that addresses these issues through common sense reforms."

Hampton made his request to committee leadership as individual lawmakers can only introduce budget-related bills during even-numbered session years.

The deadline for the Labor Committee to raise bills is February 20.

For more information, contact CBIA's Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede