Paid Family Medical Leave Passes the House

June 1, 2019

Yesterday, I cast a tough, yet what I felt to be a necessary vote to pass legislation which would implement a Paid Family Medical Leave program for Connecticut. Before diving into the complicated feelings I have towards this legislation, let me first explain how the program would run:

As laid out in SB 1, An Act Concerning Paid Family and Medical Leave, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance program created by the legislation will provide up to 12 weeks of wage replacement benefits for state residents needing to take time off for five reasons:

  • Care for a new child (birth, adoption, foster)
  • Care for family member with serious health condition
  • Care for own serious health condition
  • Qualifying exigency arising out of family member being on active duty
  • To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor

If an employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity then the employee would be eligible for 14 weeks.

People considered as a family member include children, parents, spouses, domestic partners, grandparents, grandchildren and individuals related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships.

The legislation will apply to private sector employers with one or more employees. Self-employed employees and sole-proprietors have the ability to opt-in to the program. In addition, non-union state and local government employees are covered. Unionized workers will have the ability to collectively bargain and become covered.

The program will cost $5.1 million to start up, and authorizes bonding funds for the IT infrastructure, which will be paid back by the program. There will be a 0.5 percent earnings deduction (50 cents for every $100, so if you make $50,000/yr. you'd contribute $250 to the fund annually) from every employee’s paycheck to continually fund this program. Paid Deductions will begin on Jan. 1 2021. Your first opportunity to take a Paid Family Medical Leave will be Jan. 1, 2022. The program has severe financial penalties for willful misrepresentation of facts to take Paid Family Medical Leave, including disqualification of seeking benefits for a two year period.

To read more about the details of this bill, please click here.

Casting my vote in support of this bill was truthfully a difficult choice. I’ve spoken with so many business owners and constituents who have shared the struggles they will face due to the implementation of this and other policies we have introduced this year. I've also talked with individuals who have had to make the difficult decision between caring for their families and being able to support them. I’ve listened and had great conversations with a variety of individuals throughout our community on both sides of the issue, and ultimately I had to vote with my conscience.

We need policies that support low-wage workers just as much as we need policies that support our businesses in the state – and sadly, finding a balance between those two principles can be difficult. There will be times like this, when I’ll be forced to make a difficult call. Ultimately my vote came down to this, I don’t want to support the continuation of two Connecticut’s - one for those with the means to generate income and one for those who's work product supports that effort.

In my first term as a legislator, I’ve sought to support policy that unifies our state by putting an end to the strong divide of those who are privileged and those who are not. The 53rd District has people in both categories. Connecticut is ranked third nationwide in overall income inequality, and studies have shown the divide only getting worse.

I am committed to continuing to work to ensure that the impact of the law we passed is closely monitored and amended if needed to insure solvency, transparency and compassion so that it works equally for businesses and the people whose daily efforts produce their profits.

If you have any questions or require help, please contact my office at (860) 240-8456 or email, Pat.WilsonPheanious@cga.ct.gov.