By Nichole Berklas
It’s time to clear up some myths about paid family leave.
SB-1: An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave and H.B. 5387: An Act Concerning Paid Family Medical Leave, are set for hearing Thursday at 2:30 p.m., and making their way through the legislative process. With the public hearing fast approaching, it’s time to clear up the following misconceptions.
- We already have FMLA, that is enough. Check out our earlier blog for more details on this issue- the short and sweet answer is NO. http://now-ct.org/but-wait-dont-we-already-have-paid-family-leave/
- What employees will be eligible? Any employee who has earned $2,325 in the highest earning quarter within the five most recent completed calendar quarters is eligible, and their eligibility is determined based on earnings with multiple employers.
- What if YOU are the employer? Needing paid leave does not restrict itself to employees only. Self-employed people may choose to opt into the program should they want a safety net in the event (or when) life rears up!
- If you take leave, what do you get? Employees may take up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, with an extra 2 weeks available if there is a serious health condition with a pregnancy that results in incapacity. Employees receive 100% of their weekly wages, up to a cap of $1,000 per week.
- This seems great, BUT CONNECTICUT HAS NO MONEY. The advantage of this program is that it is not dependent on the financial viability of the State. The program is funded by a small employee premium of 0.5% of weekly earning, up to the SSI limit on deductions. While the program will be administered by the CT Department of Labor, and will require personnel to administer, the costs of this administration has been factored into the program itself. Start up costs will be funded by bond allocation, and premiums will be collected for a year prior to claimants being able to draw upon the fund, which will allow the program to be self-sustaining and cover benefit claims as well as staffing needs.
- This will hurt businesses, and we certainly can’t afford that NOW. When workers don’t have access to paid leave, they are more likely to leave their jobs. Improving worker retention has real monetary benefits to employers large and small. After 10 years of paid family leave in California (the state with the longest existing program), employers overwhelming report positive or neutral impacts on their business and note increased morale and productivity in employees.
Nichole Berklas serves as Connecticut NOW’s representative to the Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave.