When Gov. Ned Lamont signed the Connecticut Paid Leave into law just over four years ago, there was a feeling of joy – and relief – among those who had advocated for years to bring this program to our state.
Four years ago, the ways in which a paid family and medical leave program would positively impact Connecticut’s workforce was well understood in theory.
That theory has now been in practice for a year and a half and has proven successful, allowing both individuals and families to breathe a bit easier during a challenging time.
Nearly 66,000 workers in Connecticut have received over $375 million in benefits when they were unable to work due to a qualifying serious health or family reason. People across Connecticut no longer must choose between making ends meet and caring for their own health, caring for a loved one, or having the ability to expand their family.
Paid leave helps workers in their time of need. It helps employers attract and retain employees and improves productivity and job satisfaction. Paid leave improves family and child health, leads to stronger parental bonding with new children, and gives caregivers relief from the stress of caring for a loved one. Many of these parental and caregiving tasks have traditionally fallen on women who continue to make up 64% of the claimants. Paid Leave gives a much-needed helping hand, enabling not only women –- but all workers -– to take an active role in caring for others while also giving them the financial peace of mind to address their own serious health needs.
Connecticut’s Paid Leave program is a model for other states who are considering passing paid leave policies. The agency has been called upon to share best practices at multiple events on the national level. We have come to be known as a leader in providing a progressive Paid Leave policy that is responsive, equitable and in many cases, life changing for the most vulnerable.
To date, 13 states have passed paid family and medical leave statutes – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington state, as well as Washington D.C. Other states, like New Hampshire and Vermont, have enacted voluntary programs for employers who want to opt in.
As Board Chair of the CT Paid Leave Authority Board, I’m proud of the work the agency has done and I’m eager to see the country follow suit by passing meaningful paid leave. I hope you’ll take time to view the complete CT Paid Leave annual report here.
Fran Pastore is CT Paid Leave Board Chair and CEO of Women’s Business Development Council.