January 1 Brings Big Changes to CT’s Family and Medical Leave Law. Is Your Company Ready?

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law

The Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA) generally requires private-sector employers to provide unpaid, job-protected leave to employees for various reasons related to their health, the health of a family member or the birth or adoption of a child. The current law applies to employers of 75 or more employees. Effective January 1, 2022, the CT FMLA will be amended in several significant respects. Most notably, the revised law will now require employers with at least one employee to provide FMLA leave.

In addition, under the new Connecticut Paid Leave Act, beginning January 1, 2022 eligible employees can receive income-replacement benefits from the CT Paid Leave Authority while on CT FMLA leave or leave under the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act.

The CT Paid Leave Authority has begun accepting applications for paid benefits in connection with leaves that will start on and after January 1, 2022. See this link for information about how employees can access paid leave benefits and the employer’s role when an employee requests leave under the amended CT FMLA. The website of the CT Paid Leave Authority also contains helpful guidance for employers and employees.

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Amendments to the CT FMLA

As noted above, the revised CT FMLA will apply to employers of one or more employees beginning January 1. Other key changes to the CT FMLA starting on the new year include the following:

  • The Threshold for Eligibility is Changing: Employees need only work for an employer for three months to qualify and there is no longer a minimum requirement for hours worked (previous law required 12 months of employment and 1,000 work-hours with the employer);
  • The Number of Weeks Available and How You Calculate Them is Changing:  The maximum CT FMLA leave allowed will now be 12 weeks over a 12-month period (with an additional two weeks of leave available for a serious health condition that results in incapacitation during pregnancy) (previously employees were entitled to 16 weeks over a 24-month period);
  • There Will Be a New Limitation When FMLA Leave is Taken Relating to Employer Provided Paid Leave: Employers requiring an employee to use employer provided paid leave when out on CT FMLA leave will now be required to permit an employee to retain not less than 2 weeks of available employer-provided leave (previously employers could require employees to use all accrued time);
  • The Definition of Family Members for Whom an Employee May Take CT FMLA Leave is Expanded.

Paid Leave Benefits under the CT Paid Leave Program

Beginning January 1, 2022, the Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) Program will also provide covered employees with income replacement when taking leave for reasons allowed under the CT FMLA or the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act.  The CTPL Program is administered by the CT Paid Leave Authority. The funding to support the benefits comes from employee payroll deductions that began on January 1, 2021.

Employees must meet certain wage requirements and must be currently employed (or must have been employed within the previous 12 weeks) in order to receive benefits from the Authority. Self-employed individuals and sole proprietors who live in Connecticut may also voluntarily enroll in the CTPL Program. The CT Paid Leave Authority—not the employer– is responsible for determining whether an employee is eligible to receive income-replacement benefits. Employers will need to assist the Authority in verifying eligibility after an employee fills out an application with the Authority for the benefits.   

Action Steps

Small employers who are not currently subject to the CT FMLA (or the federal FMLA which applies to employers with 50 or more employees) will need to take immediate steps to comply with next month’s changes in the law. These steps include revising employee handbooks to include an FMLA policy, updating workplace notices and educating supervisors and employees about the new law, leave entitlements and the availability of paid leave benefits. 

Larger employers who have been subject to the CT FMLA for some time will similarly need to review and revise their policies and procedures in the new year given the significant changes made to the previous version of the CT FMLA and the income replacement benefits which will now be available from the Authority.  

The Connecticut Department of Labor is expected to issue regulations in the near future that will help clarify some aspects of the revised CT FMLA.

[View source.]

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