The Connecticut General Assembly is finalizing its budget implementation bill today and suffice to say that there are more than a few surprises in there. (CT News Junkie first highlighted it in a tweet, it should be noted.)
For employers, buried deep in the bill is Section 422 entitled: “PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE IMPLEMENTATION”. This seems to revive a paid family and medical leave program that was thought to be shot down earlier this session.
What does it do? It starts a framework for paid leave to be implemented similar to other payroll deduction services.
According to the summary of the legislation:
The bill requires the labor commissioner, in consultation with the state treasurer, state comptroller, and commissioner of administrative services, to establish the procedures needed to implement a paid family and medical leave (FML) program.
The labor commissioner must contract with a consultant to create an implementation plan for the program by October 1, 2015. At minimum, the plan must:
1. include a process to evaluate and establish mechanisms, through consultation with the above officials and the Department of Revenue Services, by which employees must contribute a portion of their salary or wages to a paid FML program by possibly using existing technology and payroll deduction systems;
2. identify mechanisms for timely claim acceptance; claims processing; fraud prevention; and any staffing, infrastructure and capital needs associated with administering the program;
3. identify mechanisms for timely distributing employee compensation and any associated staffing, infrastructure, and capital needs; and
4. identify funding opportunities to assist with start-up costs and program administration, including federal funds.
The bill also requires the labor commissioner, by October 1, 2015 and in consultation with the treasurer, to contract with a consultant to perform an actuarial analysis and report on the employee contribution level needed to ensure sustainable funding and administration for a paid FML compensation program.
The labor commissioner must submit a report on the implementation plan and actuarial analysis to the Labor and Appropriations committees by February 1, 2016.
But wait! There’s more. There’s a whole series of changes to the CHRO that are added in as well in Sections 71-87.
As for those changes, indeed, several are technical, but some are not. For example, under this legislation, a commission legal counsel could intervene in a public hearing or appeal without consent of the parties. It would also limit the avenues for Complainants to reopen complaints that have been pending over two years.
The bill also creates a “Low Wage Employer Advisory Board” in Section 497 which would review the impact on employees of paying “low wages”.
My cursory review of the bills shows other provisions relating to “labor peace agerements” for certain state projects, and a minimum $15/hour wage on certain contracts. For employers, this is definitely a bill to review today.
Given that this bill was released at the last minute and contains all sorts of compromises, I think its unlikely that it will be amended at this late stage, but stay tuned over the next 36 hours to see what’s next!