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Paid Family and Medical Leave

Posted on June 4, 2019 by admin


As the mother of three children, I know the time and energy that parenthood demands. I’ve also cared for aging family members and understand the emotional and physical toll it takes. For those working a full-time job, the stress can be overwhelming. While navigating the responsibilities of taking care of children, looking after an ailing family member, or both, we’ve all asked ourselves: How do I balance it all?

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) is a viable solution to this dilemma. Republicans in the House and Senate recently proposed an efficient, sustainable and equitable PFML solution. Unlike the costly state-run program proposed by the Democratic majority (Senate Bill 1), this program would not have involved a 0.5% payroll tax on Connecticut’s workforce.

Employees would have had the option to purchase private sector family and medical leave insurance through new insurance regulations. They would have been able to choose a plan with the appropriate coverage, price and duration that they need. Coverage would be available for caring for grandparents, grandchildren, sibling and spousal-type relationships.

Employers would have the ability to offer the coverage on a full or shared basis. It would have also served as a competitive market-based benefit that they could use to attract skilled workers and grow their business.

Unfortunately, this plan was rejected and the Democrat-proposed plan passed in the House 79 to 69 on Friday.

The legislation that passed mandates every private sector worker (unionized state employees are exempted) to contribute 0.5% of their salary from every paycheck to fund a program they may or may not intend to use. There is no choice to opt out. At any point, if the fund is determined to be unsustainable, the commissioner of the Department of Labor may unilaterally raise the employee contribution to insure solvency.

The program carries a $13 million start-up cost and more state funds to keep it running. It would be run by a new quasi-government agency, which would hire unionized employees to process paperwork, spend start-up money on television advertisements and mailers, and handout generous wage replacement benefits for up to 12 weeks of leave. This plan has richer benefits than the other six states that have PFML.

Developing PFML is the right thing to do for workers in our state. Although, I believe we should have approached this in a way that is fair and sustainable to people, families, and small/large businesses. Common sense and basic math must prevail in the work we do to balance the important needs of employees, employers and our taxpayers.