In a recently enacted budget measure, Connecticut has moved one step closer to implementing statewide paid family and medical leave for employees. However, details about funding and the extent of coverage that any ultimately adopted measures would provide remain to be seen.
In Section 413 of a special session bill, Public Act No. 15-5, passed on June 29, 2015, the Connecticut Legislature called for the state Labor Commissioner to work in conjunction with other state offices to investigate possible mechanisms for instituting a paid family and medical leave program that would allow workers to maintain their income while taking time off for illness, to bond with new children, or to care for sick family members.
The bill requires the Labor Commissioner to contract with a consultant by no later than October 1, 2015 to create an implementation plan, which must include, among other things:
- a process to evaluate and establish mechanisms by which employees would contribute a portion of their wages to the program, including the possibility of utilizing existing technology and payroll deduction systems;
- mechanisms for the timely acceptance and processing of claims and distribution of employee compensation, as well as fraud prevention;
- information regarding staffing, infrastructure, and capital needs associated with the administration of the program; and
- funding opportunities to assist with start-up costs and administration of the program.
The consultant will also be required to perform an actuarial analysis of the level of employee contributions that would be necessary to ensure a sustainable and fully funded program. Following the completion of the consultant’s analysis, the Labor Commissioner is required to submit a report on the implementation plan to the Connecticut General Assembly by no later than February 1, 2016.
While this measure sets forth concrete next steps in the process of establishing paid family and medical leave, numerous questions still remain about what the final program will provide, including what categories of employees will be covered and whether certain employers will be exempt from providing benefits based on size, revenue, or other factors. However, the state legislature’s move in adopting the measure suggests that statewide paid family and medical leave in Connecticut is only a question of time.