- Qualifying Connecticut employees can now begin collecting benefits under the state’s paid family and medical leave program
- The program creates new responsibilities for smaller employers who were previously exempt from laws on employee leave
- Employers must complete an employment verification form when an employee submits a leave request with the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority
Summary by Dirk Langeveld
Connecticut employees can officially begin collecting benefits under the state’s new paid family and medical leave program, as these benefits became available on Jan. 1. The program will also create new responsibilities for many smaller businesses that previously weren’t subject to paid leave rules.
The applications process for Connecticut’s paid leave program opened on Dec. 1 for leaves anticipated to begin on Jan. 1 or later. Qualifying employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for purposes such as treatment for or recovery from an illness or injury suffered by the employee or a family member, care for a newborn, recovery from family violence, and addressing qualifying exigencies related to an active call to military service.
Businesses must allow this benefit if they have one or more employees, unless they have been exempted by offering a comparable paid leave program of their own. Previously, only businesses with 50 or more employees were required to let workers take unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
To qualify for benefits under the program, an employee must have earned wages of at least $2,325 in the highest quarter of the first four of the five most recently completed quarters. The wages can include salary or hourly pay as well as vacation or holiday pay, tips, commissions, severance pay, and the value of any “in-kind” payments. Employees must also be employed or have been employed within the last 12 weeks.
According to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, employers’ responsibilities include making 0.5 percent payroll deductions and submitting these funds to the authority on a quarterly basis. Employers are also asked to communicate with their employees about leave requests, since employees must first apply to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority before the request is verified with the employer.
Claimants are provided with an employment verification form, which they must provide to their employer to complete. The two-page document confirms information such as the employee’s date of hire, job title, and schedule. It also asks whether the leave is due to an injury received on the job, and whether the employee is receiving Worker’s Compensation as a result.
Employers need to complete this form and submit it to Aflac, the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority’s claims administrator, within 10 days. Within five days of the submission of all required documentation, employees are informed about the disposition of their claim; employers will likely be notified as well.
To prepare for the implementation of the new program, employers can update company policies to reflect how existing employee benefits will exist with those available under the state’s paid leave program. Any changes should be communicated with employees.
In addition, businesses can set up a point person to discuss paid leave claims with employees and to receive and complete employment verification forms. This person can also be responsible for tracking scheduled leaves and return dates.
Employees interested in receiving paid leave must submit required documentation as soon as possible after filing a claim. The documents should be submitted to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority no later than 15 days from the claim submission or their first date of absence, whichever is later.
Qualifying documents vary based on the circumstances necessitating the leave, and a full checklist is available here. All claims must be accompanied by a document verifying the employee’s identity, such as a copy of their passport or driver’s license.