Effective January 1, 2021, the state of Connecticut will launch a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program. The program will be fully funded by employee payroll contributions, and is intended to provide wage replacement and job protection to employees who need time away from their jobs to tend to family or medical needs.
Below are some frequently asked questions for employees about the program.
Is participation mandatory?
Beginning January 1, 2021:
- Your employer must participate in the CT Paid Leave Program if they have any activity, enterprise or business in CT with one or more employees (including non-unionized state employees).
- As an employee, you must participate in the Paid Leave Program unless you are specifically excluded by law. (See the “Excluded from participating” section of this guide).
- CT residents who are sole proprietors or self-employed can choose to opt-in.
Who is excluded from participating?
- Employees of the federal government.
- State and municipality employees who are members of a union (unions can bargain to be included in the program).
- Employees of local and regional members of Boards of education. Non-public elementary and secondary school employees.
Is paid leave considered protected leave?
- The CT Paid Leave Authority only offers payment for qualifying events but does NOT offer job protection to employees taking leave.
- Only employers can determine, in communication with the employee, whether the leave taken is subject to job protection.
- Federal and state Family & Medical Leave Acts describe the rules for job-protected leave and are NOT paid leave laws.
What are the qualifying events?
- Upon the birth of a son or daughter of the employee.
- Upon the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care.
- To care for a family member of the employee if such family member has a serious health condition.
- Because of a serious health condition of the employee. To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor.
- If an employee is experiencing family violence.
What about family in the military?
- For any qualifying exigency, arising out of the fact that the spouse, son, daughter or parent of the employee is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in the armed forces.
- To care for a military family member who is injured during active duty.
What makes you eligible to receive benefits?
- At least $2,325 in earned wages during the first 4 of the past 5 quarters, and fit into one of the following categories:
- Currently employed and working in CT.
- Currently unemployed but had been employed and working in CT in the past 12 weeks.
- A Sole Proprietor or Self-employed individual, and a resident of CT who chooses to participate - they must remain in the program for three years.
- Employees (as opposed to sole proprietors and self-employed individuals) do not need to be a resident of CT.
How much will employees contribute?
- Employees will have contributions of 1/2 of 1% of their wages deducted for each pay period. Deductions are made from wages up to the defined Social Security wage base (using the same calculations for determining total wages as are used to calculate FICA) and done so through payroll deduction, to coincide with each pay cycle.
- Total wages for an employee includes: the gross earnings from their employer(s): salary or hourly wages, vacation pay, holiday pay, tips, commissions, severance pay, etc.
How is the benefit calculated?
The benefit amount is calculated by:
- Determining which two quarters in the first 4 of the past 5 quarters where the individual earned the highest total wages.
- Dividing the total wages earned in those two quarters by 26 (rounded to the next lower dollar).
What are the employee paid leave benefits?
Beginning January 1, 2022:
- The CT Paid Leave Authority can pay up to 12 weeks of benefits in connection with the approved reasons for leave. Or, if they are pregnant or given birth, and their healthcare provider determines they may need a bit more time for recovery, they can apply for an extra 2 weeks of leave.
- Weekly compensation shall be equal to 95% of the covered employee’s base weekly earnings up to an amount equal to 40x the minimum wage, 60% of that covered employee’s base weekly earnings above an amount equal to 40x the minimum wage.
- Amount will adjust as the minimum wage adjusts, but the total weekly compensation will not exceed an amount equal to 60 times the minimum wage. Example: A full-time worker earning $20/hr and working 40 hrs/wk would have base weekly earnings of $800.00. In June of 2023, once the minimum wage is fully phased in, they would be eligible to receive 95% of their first $600.00 in earnings ($570.00), plus 60% of their next $200 in earnings ($120.00), for a total of $690.00 in weekly compensation.
- Compensation shall be available on a prorated basis for workers taking leave in increments of less than 1 full week.
- Individuals may receive compensation for non-consecutive hours of leave.
- Leave can be taken in the following formats:
- Block leave – several days in a row for the same qualifying reason.
- Reduced schedule – adjustment of working hours less than the routine schedule.
- Intermittent leave – use time in at least 15-minute increments, for doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, chronic migraines, etc.
What are the wage replacement conditions?
- Covered employees may receive compensation from the Paid Leave Authority at the same time as receiving benefits from their employer, although the total amount of the combined compensation cannot exceed 100% of their regular rate of compensation.
- Covered employees may not receive PFML compensation at the same time they are receiving Unemployment Compensation, Worker’s Compensation, or any of other state or federal benefit that provides wage replacement.
Visit Connecticut Paid Leave for more information.