Following in the steps of New York and Massachusetts, Connecticut will become the third New England state to offer Paid Family Medical Leave (CT PFML). Like the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave program, CT Paid Family Medical Leave will cover both short-term medical leave for employees and family leave to care for specific family members, under one policy. The leave also covers:
Victims of family violence
Family bonding with infants, newly adopted or new foster children within the first year
What Is CT Paid Family Medical Leave?
Deductions for CT Paid Family Leave begin January 1, 2021, but claimants can’t file for the benefit until January 22, 2022. Business owners can register to write coverage through the State Fund as of November 1, 2020.
The DBL Center is staying in touch with our carriers in the market, as well as with the CT State Insurance Fund, to determine when and how employers can write a private plan. The DBL Center is working closely with our network of top-rated, preferred carriers to determine who has filed to write in this market. We will keep our brokers up to date, as early education is sure to be a key to success in showing Connecticut business owners the benefits of privatized CT PFML.
To qualify for the benefit, employees must have been employed within the last 12 weeks and earned at least $2,325 in at least one quarter from the first four of the past five most recently completed quarters.
For instance, if an employee earned $2,400 in the most recently ended quarter, but only $2,000 in the four prior to that, they would not qualify. But if they earned $2,400 three quarters ago, and then their wages dropped to $2,000 for the past two quarters, they would qualify.
Former employees who met the earnings and have been employed within the prior 12 weeks are also eligible.
Additionally, self-employed individuals and sole proprietors can opt into CT Paid Family Medical Leave coverage, as can Connecticut residents who are employed in a different state.
What Employers Need to Know About CT Paid Family Medical Leave
All employers with one or more employees are covered under the PFML law. The law also provides employers with the tools and resources to comply with the applicable laws and promote a happy, healthy, and positive workplace.
Employers in the State of Connecticut play a crucial role in helping workers access to paid time off to meet their various personal and family health needs under the CT Paid Family Medical Leave law. They have to:
Make Payroll Deductions – Beginning January 1, 2021, the funding to support the program will come in the form of employee payroll deductions. The employers have to make payroll deductions that are capped at 0.5%. Because contributions are only based on earnings up to the social security cap, the calculation might require estimations in some cases.
Submit Employee Contribution – Employers are responsible for withholding as well as submitting the payroll deductions for each worker quarterly. These deductions are submitted to the CT Paid Leave Authority. Failure to make appropriate contributions can lead to penalties.
Communicate with the Authorities and Employees to Discuss Leave Requests – Employees need to apply for time away from work to their employers. Also, they need to apply to the CT Paid Leave Authority for paid leave benefits to receive income replacement benefits while they are on leave. In some situations, the employee, the employer and the Paid Leave Authority might need to communicate with each other in order to establish the reason for the leave or to verify the duration and frequency of the leave.
How You Can Help Connecticut Business Owners Choose a Private Plan
As in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, who all offer paid family and/or medical leave benefits, employers can say no to the state plan and opt into privatized CT Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, instead.
However, current legislation will require employee opt-in and private carrier approval via a vote. New Jersey recently waived the 50%+1 signature requirement to privatize TDB coverage. But brokers hoping to move into the CT PFML market in Connecticut are likely to face challenges getting employee buy-in to privatize benefits.
The good news?
Time is on the side of Connecticut brokers, with the legislation set to go into effect January 1, 2022. Now is the time to begin showing Connecticut business owners the benefits of a private plan. We have New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey as examples of the advantages of privatizing paid leave.
These advantages, in general, include:
Better, one-on-one service with a broker who truly cares about Connecticut business owners
A choice of top-rated carriers
Benefits equal to or better than those offered by the state, for the same price or lower than the state offers
In addition to getting employees to vote to privatize CT Paid Family Medical Leave, employees must also vote on the specific carrier in order to satisfy the CT statutory requirement.
Now’s the time to begin educating Connecticut business owners and show them the vast choices of carriers and plans they have when they work with DBL Center brokers. It’s time to show them how they can save by bundling ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and Group Life / AD&D. And to show them how white-glove service makes a difference, especially when employers and HR directors are struggling to navigate a whole new world of employee benefits with CT Paid Family Medical Leave.