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Employers Uncertain How Prepared They Are as Connecticut Paid Leave Opens For Business Registrations

  • Connecticut Paid Leave Authority begins registering businesses for the state’s new benefits under the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Payroll deductions for programs to begin on Jan. 1 with benefits available in 2022
  • Survey finds that many employers consider themselves unprepared for family and medical leave programs, though the authority is stepping up its public relations efforts

The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority has started to register businesses for the state’s new paid family and medical leave program, which is set to begin next year. The authority has been overseeing a major public relations effort, though employers in a recent survey were reticent about their knowledge of the program and the state’s ability to administer it.

Businesses were allowed to start registering with the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority on Nov. 1. They can also opt out if they have a private plan offering comparable benefits to those allowed under the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) passed last year. Self-employed people and sole proprietors are also eligible for the program, though they must remain in it for three years after registering.

The program expands Connecticut’s existing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to be more comprehensive. One of the most prominent changes is that the PFMLA applies to companies with as few as one employee, while FMLA only applied to companies with at least 75 employees. The new legislation also expands the definition of family members and eligible employees, and provides for 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for health reasons or to take care of a family member (FMLA authorized 16 weeks of unpaid leave in a 24-month period).

Starting on Jan. 1, participating employers will begin withholding 0.5 percent from employees’ paychecks to contribute to the PFMLA program. Employers are also expected to communicate with employees about the program. Employees can begin submitting applications for benefits later in 2021, and benefits will become available on Jan. 1, 2022.

A survey issued at the start of the year that polled 452 employers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and other states where paid family and medical leave programs are being prepared found that only one in four considered themselves prepared to incorporate such a program. Smaller employers with 25 to 99 people on the payroll were more apprehensive, with 80 percent considering themselves unprepared.

Employers were also uncertain about the ability of their state government to handle the program, with 64 percent saying they weren’t confident on this front. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they doubted whether the state had the financial stability and ability to pay claims under the program.

The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority is preparing efforts such as billboards and mailers to make employers aware of the program, and has also hosted several webinars on the matter. The authority’s website also includes a section for employers with downloadable resources and a walkthrough on how to register for the program.

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