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Connecticut employees who need time off from work may qualify for job-protected leave and income replacement.
But contrary to what Connecticut Paid Leave Authority CEO Erin Choquette called a “pretty persistent misconception,” the benefits are offered under two separate programs, each with their own application process.
Job-protected leave has been available under the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act since the 1990s — though the program was expanded in January 2022 — while income replacement has been administered by the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority since December 2021.
Here’s what to know about the two programs.
What’s the difference between Connecticut Family and Medical Leave and Connecticut Paid Leave?
Connecticut Family and Medical Leave guarantees job protection to employees taking leave from work, while Connecticut Paid Leave is the state’s income replacement program.
Family and Medical Leave does not provide any money, while Paid Leave does not guarantee job protection.
How is paid leave funded?
The program is financed by a payroll tax of one-half of one percent of workers’ income. Those contributions are capped at the same level as Social Security contributions, Choquette said, meaning the tax currently only applies to the first $160,200 a person makes.
Am I eligible for CT Family and Medical Leave and/or CT Paid Leave?
To qualify for Connecticut Family and Medical Leave, an employee must have worked for their employer for a minimum of three months, defined as having been on their employer’s payroll for any part of each of the previous 13 weeks.
There’s no employer tenure requirement to qualify for paid leave, but an employee must have earned at least $2,325 in their highest-earning quarter in the first 4 of the 5 most recently completed quarters (regardless of where they were employed).
For example, an employee making a claim between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2023 would qualify if they earned at least $2,325 in any of these quarters: July-September 2022, October-December 2022, January-March 2023, and April-June 2023.
Choquette said that structure is in place because the CT Paid Leave Authority uses state Department of Labor data to validate a person’s earnings, and there’s typically a delay between the end of a quarter and when all employers have submitted their employees’ wages to DOL.
What circumstances qualify for the programs?
Qualifying life events for both programs are: The birth or adoption of a child, a serious health condition (suffered by the employee or a family member), an organ or bone marrow donation, and circumstances surrounding a family member’s armed forces service.
The state defines a “family member” as a parent, child, spouse, sibling, grandparent or grandchild, as well as an “individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships.”
Workers dealing with family violence are eligible for income replacement, and they can take protected leave for related services or legal proceedings. However, their time away from work is protected under the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act, rather than FMLA.
How much money can I receive through paid leave?
Up to 12 weeks of replacement wages are available. Wages are payable on a sliding scale based on one’s income, though there is a cap.
To determine how much money an employee will receive, CTPL first calculates the person’s average weekly income — known as their “base wage.”
If the person’s base wage is less than or equal to 40 times the Connecticut minimum wage — currently $600 for a 40-hour work week — then their benefit is 95% of their base wage.
If a person’s base wage is over 60 times the Connecticut minimum wage — currently over $900 for a 40-hour work week — then their paid leave income is capped at that amount.
A person whose base wage is between 40 and 60 times the Connecticut minimum wage would get 95% of the first $600 of their base wage, and 60% of the difference between $600 and their base week wage.
How much time off can I receive through FMLA?
Connecticut’s FMLA offers qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period, with a guarantee that they will hold their same job (or an equivalent job) upon their return to work.
Employees who became incapacitated during pregnancy may be eligible for up to two additional weeks of leave.
How can I apply for the programs?
Workers can apply for job-protected leave directly with their employer, who will provide notices and forms to fill out. The program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor.
Employees who believe their employer isn’t adhering to the FMLA can file a complaint with the CTDOL. A complaint form can be found in this portal.
Applications for paid leave are handled by the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority. Workers can submit a claim on the authority’s website, and anyone who is denied income can file an appeal through the CTDOL’s Appeals Division.