In 2011, Connecticut became the country’s first state to mandate employer paid sick leave. Section 31-51kk of Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires employers to provide paid family and medical leave to qualifying employees.
Three years after the law was enacted, a new study by a Washington think-tank, the Center for Economic Policy Research, found that the program has been extremely effective, while not resulting in overwhelming costs to businesses. The enactment of this law also makes it more manageable for employees to take leave to deal with certain family law issues.
The Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act
Employees covered under the law are those who are employed for at least 12 months by an employer, and for at least 1,000 hours during this period. Employers required to provide medical and family leave are those with 75 or more employees, but not including private or parochial schools, and the law also does not apply to state institutions, boards of education, or municipalities. Covered employees are entitled to receive a total amount of 16 weeks of paid work leave during any 24-month period. Leave is allowed for the specific situations, including:
- A serious health condition of the employee;
- For the employee to provide care for a child, parent, or spouse with a serious health condition;
- The birth of a child of the employee;
- For the employee to donate bone marrow or an organ(s); and
- The employee’s receipt of a new child from foster or adoptive care.
The Center for Economic Policy Research’s Findings
When the FMLA was created, many were concerned that its enactment would levy burdensome costs on the Connecticut businesses that were required to provide paid leave. However, the Center for Economic Research found that this was not the case. The report found that over 250 Connecticut employers were actually in support of the law, and its effect was to greatly reduce the spread of workplace illness, as well as to increase employee morale.
Furthermore, cost increases were not that great, as only 10 percent of those businesses involved in the study found that their costs increased by three percent or more. Around two-thirds of businesses stated that the program had either had little impact on costs, or increased overall costs to less than two percent.
These low costs are the result of the fact that employer coverage for sick workers was relatively inexpensive. Eighty-five percent of employers reassigned work to other existing employers, or simply postponed the work needed until the employee returned to work. The other 15 percent of employers made up for the work by assigning overtime or through the use of temporary employers. As a result of these inexpensive adjustments, minimal changes were made to business practices, including wages, hours, and prices.
Connecticut has the privilege of providing a blueprint to the rest of the country when it comes to effective employer paid family and medical leave. The FMLA’s success is a positive gain for family law and worker advocates throughout the state. Contact the family law attorneys here at Greenberg and Krieger, LLP in Fairfield County, Connecticut. We can answer any questions you may have about family law and parental rights in Connecticut.