Connecticut employers sorting through the complexities of the amended Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) and Connecticut Paid Leave Act (CTPL) need to ensure they are providing all new hires with the requisite notice, which explains CTFMLA entitlements, employee obligations, the prohibitions against retaliation, and the procedures to file complaints with the Labor Department for alleged violations. This is a new requirement, effective as of July 1, 2022.
Employers additionally have an ongoing obligation to provide employees with notice of their rights under CTFMLA and CTPL on an annual basis. Employers may wish to update their employee handbooks to include the notice provisions. While not yet final, pending regulations proposed by the Department of Labor indicate that such a handbook update will satisfy the annual notice requirement. Also, FAQs issued by the Department of Labor include this recommendation.
Expanded Reasons for Leave
CTFMLA and CTPL collectively provide eligible employees with job-protected leave and income replacement while the employee:
- recovers from or cares for a family member with a serious health condition;
- bonds with a child newly added to the family;
- serves as an organ or bone marrow donor;
- addresses qualifying exigencies related to a close family member’s military service; or
- cares for a close family member who is seriously ill or injured while on active duty in the armed forces.
CTFMLA provides the job-protected leave entitlement, while CTPL is an income replacement program. CTPL is additionally available for employees who have been impacted by family violence, and in that context the employee’s ability to take the leave is protected under the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act.
Other CTFMLA Provisions Also Expanded
Employers should note that these laws are newly effective as of January 1, 2022. They alter and expand employers’ prior CTFMLA obligations and add a new layer of paid leave. Employers that were familiar with and meeting the prior CTFMLA requirements must ensure that they have updated their policies and practices to reflect the changes to the law – which expand the uses of CTFMLA, and shift from a schedule of leave taken over a 24-month period to a program of up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave over a 12-month period (thereby more closely mirroring the federal FMLA). The new CTFMLA further grants employees who are incapacitated due to pregnancy an additional two weeks (14 in total) of job-protected leave, and again mirrors the federal FMLA in that it provides employees who are caring for a covered service member with up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave in a 12-month period. Another key change under the new version of the CTFMLA is that, while employers can require employees to use their accrued, paid time off during their leave period, employees can exempt from that requirement and preserve up to two weeks of their paid time off to be used for other purposes.
By Tracey I. Levy