HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, everyone in Connecticut will see more money coming out of their paychecks due to a new state law called the Paid Family Leave Act. It is different from the federal program with a similar name “Family and Medical Leave Act.”
This one has no job protection.
“I’ve heard harrowing stories of mom’s in the hospital who can’t take time off from work because they can’t afford to take that time.” Andrea Barton Reeves the CEO of Connecticut’s Paid Leave Authority says with this new law families will not stress during tough times. “With paid leave, you no longer have to make those terrible draconian choices.”
The new state-mandated Paid Family Medical Leave program will take half a percent from each person’s paycheck to fund the state program which begins in 2022. Connecticut is one of seven states in the nation to have a taxpayer-funded Paid Leave Program.
So who qualifies for coverage?
- Sole proprietors (opt-in).
- Employees must be working for a company for at least three months to qualify for the benefit.
- Companies with one or more employees.
- Self-employed (opt-in).
What type of event qualifies? Any of these on the list, which under the law could include caring for your neighbor. The Paid Leave Authority is working with the State Department of Labor on the definition of “family member” as it pertains to the law:
- Birth, adoption, foster.
- Organ/bone marrow transplant.
- Family violence leave.
- Medical leave for self.
- Medical leave for family members.
How does it work? For example, a minimum wage worker who makes $25,000 yearly would see $2.64 deduction pre-tax on their weekly paycheck. If they need paid leave and qualify they would receive $465 a week to live on, while they are out of work.
The incoming Democratic House Speaker Representative Matt Ritter believes the law is a step in the right direction.
“We passed this bill so people could stay home and take care of themselves when they are sick, or others.”
Opponents said the Federal CARES Act currently provides paid leave through a company payroll tax.
Representative Vin Candelora the Republican House Minority Leader fears the fund will become insolvent and that the tax on wages comes at a bad time.
“To add that tax on families who are struggling is a real big mistake.”
News 8 reached out to see whether Governor Ned Lamont would suspend the state program until everyone gets on the other side of the pandemic. His Spokesperson Max Reiss says, “Governor Ned Lamont supports the Paid Family Medical Leave Program today the way he supported it on the day he signed it into law. It will serve as a support for individuals to care for loved ones.”
Meantime, who is exempt? Private schools, boards of education, some municipal employees and most state employees. If union employees vote to go into the state plan, they can work with their employer to make the change. This would also require all employees at the employer to then participate.
Employers have to register with the Paid Leave Authority starting this week.
The Paid Leave Authority expects in the first year of the program to have an estimated 90,000 claims. They also expect to collect $485 million for the fund. With claims payouts estimated at $325 million. The state treasurer will oversee the insurance fund to make sure there’s enough money to pay out claims.
The authority works with your company to facilitate the claims. Any appeal runs through the State Department of Labor.
To find out how much will come out of your paycheck use the calculator on the Paid Leave Authority’s website.