In 2019, Connecticut (CT) passed two laws that created the state’s now-existing paid family and medical leave program (Program). The first law significantly expanded the state’s then-existing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provided (and currently provides) eligible employees with unpaid job-protected leave. The second law, the CT Paid Leave Act, created an income replacement benefit for eligible employees taking leave under CT FMLA. Both laws– the expansion of CT FMLA and the enactment of CT PLA– went into effect on January 1, 2022. The new notice requirements under CT FMLA and PLA go into effect on July 1, 2022.
The amended CT FMLA and PLA require employers to provide a written notice to employees (1) upon hire and (2) annually thereafter. The notice must outline:
- Employees’ entitlement to job-protected leave under CT FMLA and the terms under which such leave may be used;
- The opportunity to file a claim for paid leave under CT PLA;
- Retaliation protections under CT FMLA and PLA; and
- The right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any violation.
The CT Department of Labor and Paid Leave Authority provides a template notice that employers can use to satisfy this requirement. The notice requirement will go into effect on July 1, 2022. See Sec.31-49q.
Final Proposed Amended FMLA Regulations
The Connecticut Department of Labor (CT DOL) recently released a final draft of the proposed amended CT FMLA regulations, which provides clarifying guidance on the 2019 expansion to the CT FMLA (i.e., the job-protected leave aspect of the state’s Program). We are still awaiting implementing regulations on the CT PLA, which is the income replacement aspect of the Program.
Below we highlight some of the changes to the CT FMLA employers should be aware of. Please note that the proposed regulations are not yet finalized.
|CT FMLA Prior to 1/1/22||CT FMLA Effective as of 1/1/22 and Proposed Regulations|
|Covered Employers||Employers with 75 or more employees.||Employers with 1 or more employees working in CT.|
|Eligible Employees||Employed for at least 12 months preceding the date of leave.||Employed for at least 3 consecutive months (13 weeks) immediately preceding the date of the leave.|
|Definition of Family Members||Spouses, children (under the age of 18), or parents.||Spouses, children (of any age), parents, siblings, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, and other “individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent” of those family relationships. For individuals with an equivalent family relationship, the proposed regulations allow employers to require an employee to provide a signed, written statement verifying the equivalent family relationship.|
|Leave Duration||16 weeks in a 24-month period.||12 weeks during any 12-month period (and an additional 2 weeks for incapacitation during pregnancy).|
|Employer Notices||Employers required to notify eligible employees of their leave rights.||Employers required to notify all employees of their leave rights. The proposed regulations add a requirement that employers must notify an employee of their eligibility to take CT FMLA no later than 5 business days after receiving the request to take such leave or learning that the employee is taking leave for a qualifying reason.|
|Request for Recertification||Employers only permitted to require recertification for leave once within a 30-day period.||Under the proposed regulation, employers may request 1 recertification in less than 30 days if: If the employee requests an extension of leave; Circumstances described in the first certification changed significantly (e.g., duration or frequency of the absence); The employer receives information that calls into question the employee’s stated reason for absence or continued validity of the certification.|
|Cause of Action||Employees alleging violations of their CT FMLA rights were required to first bring a claim before the CT DOL before filing in court.||Under the proposed regulations, employees are permitted to file a suit in court within 180 days of the violation without first having to go to the CT DOL.|
Beginning July 1, 2022, CT employers should provide the CT FMLA and PLA notice to CT employees at the time of hire and annually thereafter.
It is likely that the proposed CT FMLA amended regulations will be finalized without any significant changes. As such, CT employers may want to review their leave policy to ensure it will align with any finalized changes.