With 2014 coming to a close, it’s time to look ahead at some of the issues that we’re likely to see discussed in 2015.

One such issue is a Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance Program in Connecticut.  The origins of this come from a 2013 special act which created a task force to study the feasibility of providing short-term insurance benefits to those unable to work for FMLA-related conditions.

This fall, the Task Force outlined a plan for a new state-administered benefit program.  For those following the issue, it was not altogether surprising that the Task Force recommended that a program be implemented by the legislature.

Among its recommendations:

  • Establish a family and medical leave benefit plan to provide paid leave for applicable purposes as defined under federal or state law. The plan shall be mandatory for all private and state employees, without regard to the size of the employer.
  • The financial benefit shall be 66% of the average weekly earnings of the employee, up to a maximum of $1,000/week, for a maximum of six weeks in any 12-month period.
  • For the period an employee is receiving benefits under this plan (1) employees who work for employers that are currently required to provide job protection and continuation of benefits (e.g. maintenance of health insurance) per federal and state laws will continue to enjoy the same rights, (2) employees who work for employers that are not currently required to provide job protection and continuation of employer benefits per federal and state laws will not be entitled to such rights. However, said employees are protected against discriminatory employment practices resulting from the utilization of the plan.
  • The plan shall be 100% employee funded. It will be funded by withholding and placing a percentage of an employee’s pay into a plan fund.
  • The administration of the plan shall be handled by the Department of Labor.

After the findings, the CBIA issued its own report with an alternative suggestion.  Its conclusion? “Connecticut should not enact a new mandate for paid family and medical leave, particularly the one designed by the [Task Force].”

It cited the “likely prohibitive expense” and the likelihood it would cause “unintended consequences for employees in Connecticut and their employers.”  And it stated that “no evidence conclusively points to the need for such a program or its efficacy at reducing economic hardships on women in the state.”

What’s the Prediction for 2015?With a Democrat-controlled legislature and Governor Malloy’s re-election, one would initially think that this would be a slam-dunk.  But my sense is that the predicted budget deficit will allow the state leaders to pass on this issue for now.  Additionally, there is little doubt that business interests would mobilize against such a proposal.  While the issue may get some publicity and will likely get out of committee, I would be surprised if it made it to a floor vote.