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Connecticut Creates the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

 

In another recent change, Connecticut has created the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FMLI) program to provide wage replacement benefits to certain employees taking leave under the state’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for up to 12 weeks over a 12-month period. The program also provides two additional weeks of benefits for a serious health condition that results in incapacitation during pregnancy.

Some highlights of the bill include:

  • To be eligible for benefits, individuals must earn at least $2,325 during the highest earning quarter within their base period,
  • The base period is the first 4 quarters of the 5 most recently completed quarters,
  • The program covers private-sector employees and certain covered employees that were employed in the previous 12 weeks or sole proprietors or self-employed people who voluntarily enroll,
  • The program is funded by employee contributions, with collections beginning in January 2021, at a rate no greater than 0.5% of the employee’s earnings that are subject to the Social Security wage base,
  • FMLI benefits are available to eligible individuals starting January 1, 2022,
  • An employee’s benefits are generally capped at 95% of their base weekly wage or multiple of the state minimum wage not to exceed 60 times,
  • The program allows for employers to provide benefits through a private plan under the same conditions and costs as the FMLI program,
  • The program creates a 15-person quasi-public agency to develop and administer the program,
  • The bill that provided for FMLI also made the following changes to the FMLA staring January 1, 2022:
    • Extends the FMLA to cover private-sector employers with at least 1 employee instead of 75,
    • Lowers the employee work threshold to qualify for job-protected leave from (a) 12 months of employment and 1,000 work-hours with the employer to (b) 3 months of employment with the employer, with no minimum requirement for hours worked,
    • Changes the FMLA leave allowed from 16 weeks over a 24-month period to 12 weeks over a 12-month period and allows for an additional 2 weeks of leave due to a serious health condition that results in incapacitation during pregnancy,
    • Limits the extent to which an employer may require an employee taking FMLA leave to use their employer-provided paid leave,
    • Increases the family members for whom an employee can take FMLA to includes siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and any other blood relative or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of a spouse, sibling, child, grandparent, grandchild, or parent,
    • Also expands the family members for which employers must allow their employees to use up to two weeks of any employer-provided paid sick leave.  
  • Lastly, the program, starting July 1, 2019, creates a “non-charge” against an employer’s unemployment tax experience rate when the employee’s separation from employment is due to the return of someone who was on bona fide FMLA leave allowing the employer to lay off an employee who was temporarily filling the job of an employee on FMLA without increasing the employer’s unemployment taxes.
 
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