Posted on June 1, 2019 by Greg MacKinnon
Hartford – The legislature has approved a state-run family medical leave program that will be funded by job creators and a newly implemented payroll tax. State Rep. David T. Wilson opposed the legislation, but offered an alternative solution that would have allowed businesses to offer paid family medical leave through private insurers, without deducting money from employee paychecks.
Rep. Wilson said, “I have many concerns with this program, primarily because the state will now assume greater responsibility for administering benefits, which is traditionally out of the purview of state government. I generally support the concept of providing people the time and resources necessary to recover from an ailment, or aid a direct family member in times of need. However, the plan approved by the legislature will put that concept in jeopardy because it is inevitable the fund will be insolvent as a result of the large volume of potential claims with inadequate resources to address them.”
In order to provide greater stability, Rep. Wilson looked to carriers and providers who are already administer such benefits. In essence, employees could opt-in to the privately-run option and choose to have the necessary deductions taken from their paycheck.
The alternative plan was offered by an amendment, which was defeated along party lines. Rep. Wilson also outlined additional concerns with the underlying legislation.
“Mandating that employees have this taken out of their paycheck is an egregious act. Additionally, employers will also have to pay into the benefit pool. Consequently, the mandate creates a new tax on all of Connecticut’s businesses,” explained Rep. Wilson.
Another concern identified by Rep. Wilson is that there will be long employee absences at a higher propensity, which will ultimately hurt businesses. Absences from critical employees, with highly specialized skills or security clearances who cannot be easily replaced, could be particularly detrimental.
In addition, if a qualified replacement for a short-term employment contract is found, then at the end of the period of leave the employer would have to lay-off that temporary hire. As a result, that business would face another financial burden by being required to pay out unemployment benefits.
The legislation heads to the governor’s desk, he has the option to sign it into law or veto it.