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On June 25, 2019, Connecticut passed the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, making it the seventh state to have mandatory paid family and medical leave.

Under the Paid Family and Medical Leave program (PFML or Program), eligible employees can receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child, to care for one’s own, or a family member’s serious health condition (including up to 14 weeks for a pregnancy-related illness), to deal with a exigency arising out of active duty, or to donate an organ. The Program will be fully funded through a payroll tax on employees. Eligible employees can start applying for benefits starting January 1, 2022.

The law establishes The Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority to administer the Program. The Insurance Authority is tasked with promulgating regulations, which are set to be released on or before January 1, 2022. The following is based on the recently enacted law and may be subject to change based on additional guidance.

 

Connecticut PFML Timeline

1/1/2021 Employee Payroll Contributions Begin
1/1/2022 Deadline for PFML regulations
1/1/2022 Eligible Employees Can Start Applying for Benefits
7/1/2022 Employer Notice Requirements Begins

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are covered employers under the Program?

Businesses who employ 1 or more Connecticut employee (any individuals who act indirectly or directly in the interest of the employer) are subject to the requirements under the law.

 

Who are covered employees under the Program?

Covered employees are those work in Connecticut for a covered employer.

 

When can eligible employees take paid leave under the law?

Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave (within a 12-month period) to:

  • Care for a new child from birth, adoption, or foster care;
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Care for own serious health condition (if health condition results in incapacitation that occurs during pregnancy, eligible employees can take up to 14 weeks);
  • To deal with exigency arising out of spouse, son, daughter, or parent being called to or on active duty; or
  • To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor.

The law provides for a very expansive definition of a “family member,” which includes an employee’s sibling, son or daughter, grandparent, grandchild, parent, or any individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships.

 

How much will eligible employees receive under the Program?

Eligible employees can receive up to 95% of their base weekly earnings, up to a weekly maximum of 60 times the minimum wage, for up to 12 weeks (or 14 weeks for pregnancy-related illness).

 

How is the Program funded?

The program will be funded by a 0.5% payroll tax on covered employees, up to the Social Security maximum ($132,900 in 2019). Employee contributions are set to begin on January 1, 2021.

 

What are employer obligations under the Program?

Employers must deduct and withhold PFML contributions from employees’ paychecks starting January 1, 2021. Employers also have notice requirements (see below).

 

Do employers need to notify their employees of the Program?

Yes, effective July 1, 2022, employers must provide written notice to employees upon hire and annually thereafter. The notice must inform employees of their:

  • Entitlement to PFML under the Program;
  • Opportunity to file a claim of compensation under the Program;
  • Protection from retaliation from requesting or taking PFML; and
  • Right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.

 

Is there a private plan exemption if employers offer leave benefits as good as those provided under the Program?

Employers who have an “approved” private plan do not need to withhold PFML deductions or provide notice to their employees, as required under the law. Employers can apply for a private plan exemption if they have a plan that provides the following:

  • Confers the same rights, protections and benefits provided to the employees under the Program;
  • Does not impose any additional conditions or restrictions on the use of family or medical leave than provided under the law;
  • Costs employees no more that the premium charged through the Program;
  • Does not endanger the solvency of the Program;
  • Is approved by a majority vote of the employer’s employees; and
  • Meets any additional requirements established by the Program.

In addition, employers with self-insured plans must furnish a bond running with the state. If the employer’s private plan is fully insured, the policy must be approved by the State’s Insurance Commissioner. If any conditions of the private plan are violated, the Program can withdraw the private plan approval at any time.

 

Summary

Employers in Connecticut or employers with covered employees working in Connecticut should be aware of their obligations under the Program. To comply with the Program, employers must:

  • Deduct and withhold PFML contributions from employees’ paychecks (starting January 1, 2021) and provide PMFL notice to employees upon hire, and annually thereafter (starting July 1, 2022) or
  • Apply and get approval for a private plan exemption.

The law was recently enacted, so more regulations and guidance on how the Program will be implemented will be forthcoming.

 

Resources

Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

The information and materials on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice. Information provided in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments and may vary by jurisdiction. The content on this blog is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any particular facts or circumstances. The use of this blog does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship, nor should any such relationship be implied, and the contents do not constitute legal or tax advice. If you require legal or tax advice, please consult with a licensed attorney or tax professional in your jurisdiction. The contributing authors expressly disclaim all liability to any persons or entities with respect to any action or inaction based on the contents of this blog.

Emerald Law – Emerald is a Client Compliance Consultant for Sequoia, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Emerald enjoys stand-up comedy, live music and writing non-fiction.