SIX MONTHS AFTER PAID LEAVE "GO LIVE," CONNECTICUT'S EMPLOYER NOTICE REQUIREMENT TAKES EFFECT

Posted On June 13, 2022  

by Armando Rodriguez, Esq - Product Compliance Counsel, Compliance And Legal Department

& Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

June 13, 2022

 

UPDATE - June 17, 2022

Many employers have been concerned about the short period of time to comply with this notice requirement. Even though it has been in the Connecticut PFML statute for a couple of years, details about the notice requirement were just released this month.

Well good things DO happen sometimes! Since we originally posted this article the Connecticut Department of Labor has informally stated that employer compliance by July 31, 2022, will be sufficient. Moreover, the DOL indicated that if a complaint was filed against an employer based solely on the fact that notices were not issued by July 1, then no action would be taken by the CTDOL based solely on that fact. We assume that should also read, “as long as the employer complied by July 31."

Still, that’s not a lot of time, so don’t delay! Get the notice into your new hire paperwork by July 31, and it’s still a good idea to send the notice to ALL employees soon – by July 31 seems to be a good target!

Starting July 1, 2022, employers must provide employees with notice of their rights to Connecticut leave and pay benefits. This comes six months after Connecticut's Paid Family and Medical Leave (CT PFML) program went live and after the state's Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA) was updated to better align with the CT PFML.

Why the delay? Who knows, but it was built that way in the statute. And make no mistake, the delay in the notice requirement does not excuse any employer noncompliance with these two complex laws in the interim.

This notice must include:

  • The employee's entitlement to leave under the CT FMLA, including leave for victims of domestic violence
  • The employee's right to file for payment under the CT PFML
  • That retaliation by the employer against the employee for requesting, applying for, or using CT FMLA is prohibited
  • The employee can file a complaint for any violations with the Labor Commissioner

Employers must provide their employees with the required notice at the time of hiring, and annually from then on. The Connecticut Department of Labor recently provided an optional prototype notice. You can find a copy here. You will notice the prototype contains significantly more information than the strict requirements of the statute listed above.

So exactly what must a Connecticut employer do as of July 1, 2022?

The statute does not contain any requirement to give the notice when an employee alerts the employer to the possible need for covered leave – nor is there a requirement to give all employees notice on or by July 1. Rather:

  • The notice is required for new employees hired on or after July 1, 2022, at the time of hire.
  • The notice is required "annually thereafter." This seems to create a gap allowing employers not to give any notice to employees hired before July 1.But we don't recommend adopting that interpretation. Clearly, the intent is to provide all employees periodic (annual) notice of their rights to job protected leave and pay benefits.

So we recommend:

  • Although notice is required, the prototype is not a required form for that notice; you can modify it to fit your culture or leave processes.
  • Review the prototype notice and if desired, add your company branding and any additional information you want employees to have relating to the Connecticut leave and pay benefits and your company policies. Look at the section entitled APPLYING FOR INCOME-REPLACEMENT BENEFITS UNDER CTPL on page 2:
    • If you have a private plan to provide the paid leave benefits, include information in the notice informing employees how to apply for benefits.
    • If you use the state plan, you can eliminate the general info in the prototype about private plans.
  • Once you have the form the way you want it (and ensure it is still compliant), include it in your new hire packet for employees hired on or after July 1, 2022.
  • Select a date (we recommend not too long after July 1) to provide the notice to all employees annually.
  • Optional actions to consider:
    • Include the notice in your employee handbook for Connecticut employees
    • Post the notice in your physical workplace(s) with other required employee notices and/or on your company intranet.

MATRIX CAN HELP!

Be it updates to state leave laws or the latest and greatest when it comes to new PFML programs, Matrix is here to help you stay on top of the changes. For more information about our solutions, please contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager, or reach us at ping@matrixcos.com.

CONNECTICUT JOINS THE PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE CLUB!

Posted On November 23, 2020  

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

June 28, 2019

 

 

On June 25 Governor Lamont made Connecticut the 9th U.S. jurisdiction to adopt a paid family and/or medical leave program.  As a reminder, here are the jurisdictions with paid leave programs and their status:

  • California –in force
  • Connecticut–JUST PASSED! Employee contributions start January 1, 2021;
    leave and benefits start January 1, 2022
  • District of Columbia – employer contributions start July 1, 2019; leave and benefits
    start July 1, 2020
  • Hawaii – disability benefits (medical leave) only; in force (and studying the addition of a
    paid family leave component)
  • Massachusetts – employer/employee contributions start October 1, 2019; leave and benefits
    start January 1, 2021
  • New Jersey – in force; substantially amended in February 2019 to enrich benefits and broaden
    coverage.
  • New York – in force
  • Rhode Island – in force
  • Washington – employer/employee contributions started January 1, 2019; benefits start January 1, 2020

 

Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave – the Details

The following summary is based on our early review of the Connecticut PFML statute.  There are many more details in the law; we will continue to analyze the nitty gritty and watch for developments in the program.

ISSUE PROVISION CT S 1
Administration The statue creates an “authority” comprised of 15
appointed board members to oversee creation of
the PFML program
§2
Covered Employee Has earned $2325 during the employee’s highest
earning quarter within the base period (first 4 of 5
most recent quarters) AND:

 

  • Is presently employed OR
  • Was employed within previous 12 weeks OR
  • Is self-employed or a sole proprietor and has
    enrolled in the program

 

§1(4)
Covered Employers All private employers, regardless of size

 

Does not cover:

  • The federal government
  • The state, municipalities, or local or regional
    boards of education, except to the extent
    their employees are “covered public
    employees”
  • Nonpublic elementary or secondary schools

 

§1(8)
Total Leave Entitlement
  • 12 weeks per 12-month period
  • Additional 2 weeks for pregnancy-related
    serious health condition

 

§18(a)(1)

 

§18(i)

Leave Reasons
  • Employee’s own serious health condition
  • Family member serious health condition
  • Care for an ill/injured servicemember
  • Bonding (birth, adoption, foster care)
  • Organ or bone marrow donation
  • Military exigencies
  • Matters related to employee being a victim of family violence (limited to 12 days of leave out of the 12 weeks)

 

 

 

 

 

§3(c)(1)

Covered Family Relationships
  • Spouse
  • Sibling (related by blood, marriage,
    adoption, or foster care placement)
  • Son or daughter (no age limit) (biological,
    adopted, foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or
    a child of a person standing in loco parentis)
  • Grandparent (related by blood, marriage,
    adoption, or foster care placement)
  • Grandchild (related by blood, marriage,
    adoption, or foster care placement)
  • Parent (biological, foster, adoptive, step, in-
    law, legal guardian of the employee or the
    employee’s spouse; in loco parentis)
  • An individual related to the employee by
    blood or affinity whose close association the employee
    shows to be the equivalent of
    those family relationships

 

§§17(6), (7), (8), (10), (14), (15), (16)
Leave Year Calculation Methods
  • Calendar year
  • Any fixed 12-month period
  • Measured forward
  • Rolling back

 

§18(i)
Leave Increments Continuous, reduced schedule, intermittent §3(e)

 

§18(c)

Employee Documentation Certification from Health Care Provider for
employee’s or family member’s serious health
condition or for care of servicemember
§19 (a)-(b)
Claims Procedures
  • 2nd& 3rd opinion process allowed if employer
    has reason to doubt the validity of the
    employee’s medical certification
  • Recertification allowed on a reasonable basis
    but generally not more often than 30 days
§19(c)-(e)
Employer Notice to Employees General notice of employee’s CT PFML rights upon
hire, and then annually
§13
Employee Notice to Employer 30 days if need for leave is foreseeable

 

As soon as practicable if not foreseeable

§18(f)
Employee contributions Start 01-01-2021

 

Maximum ½ % of employee’s wages up to
maximum compensation subject to SS contribution

No employer contribution

Weekly Benefits Start 01-01-2022

 

95% of employee’s base weekly earnings up to:

  • 40 x current state minimum wage plus
  • 60% of employee’s base weekly earnings
    above 40 times current state minimum wage
  • Maximum of 60 x current state minimum
    wage

Subject to reduction if needed to ensure solvency
of the PFML program

Predicted to be ~$840/week when benefits start;
up to ~$900 in 2023 due t scheduled increases in
state minimum wage

§3(e)(2)

 

Private Plan Option

Section 11 of the Connecticut PFML law allows employers to adopt an insured or self-funded private plan.  The requirements are very similar to those in Massachusetts.  To be approved, a private plan must:

(A) Confer all of the same rights, protections and benefits provided to employees under the PFML statute, including:

(i) At least the same number of weeks of benefits;

(ii) At least the same level of wage replacement for each of those weeks; and

(iii) Leave and benefits for the same reasons as specified in the statute;

(B) Impose no additional conditions or restriction on the use of family or medical leave beyond those explicitly authorized by the statute or by regulations to be issued

(C) Cost employees no more than the premium charged to employees under the state program;

(D) Provide coverage for all employees throughout their period of employment;

(E) Provide for the inclusion of future employees;

(F) Not result in a substantial selection of risks adverse to the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Trust or otherwise significantly endanger the solvency of the fund;

(G) Have been approved by a majority vote of the employer’s employees; and

(H) Meet any additional requirements established by the authority.

 

What’s Interesting?

Health Care Provider Obligations

In a new but welcome twist, the statute imposes some obligations on health care providers:

  • The health care provider has a duty to provide a complete and timely medical certification
    upon patient’s request
  • The health care provider cannot charge a fee for completing the certification
  • If CT PFML compensation is paid as a result of willful misrepresentation by a health care provider,
    the provider may be liable for a penalty of 300% of the benefits paid as a result. Perhaps this will
    deter providers who simply approve whatever leave frequency and duration the patient says is
    needed without exercising medical judgment.

Like a family member . . .” 

You will have noted (with your hand to your forehead) that leave is available to care for “an individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships.” The law tasks the Connecticut Labor Commissioner to adopt regulations that, among other things, provide guidelines regarding factors to be considered when determining whether an individual’s close association with an employee is the equivalent of a family member relationship otherwise covered by the statute.

Existing Connecticut family and medical leave law

Current Connecticut law provides job-protected but unpaid leave of absence (up to 16 weeks in a 24-month period) for all of the reasons listed above, with leave as a victim of family violence carved out separately.  The vast majority of the existing law is repealed and reenacted or amended by the new PFML law effective January 1, 2022 – the date the paid benefits will start.  The expanded definitions of family members for whom an employee can take paid family leave will provide broader coverage for that leave reason.  Existing law allows leave to care for a parent, child (under 18 or disabled), and spouse.  As you can see above, several relationships have been added, including sibling, grandchild, grandparent, and “like a family member.”

The text of the final bill as passed can be found HERE

 

MATRIX CAN HELP! It’s early days yet for Connecticut PFML.  As usual, we will be watching for developments and reporting on this blog as new information is available.  IN the meantime, you can find our prior blog posts about other state PFML laws by typing the state name in the search box – a wealth of articles about the pending Massachusetts and Washington laws and the 2019 New Jersey amendments.

 

AND . . . If your company is interested in the private plan option for Washington or Massachusetts PFML, contact your Matrix/Reliance Standard account manager or send us a message at ping@matrixcos.com.