The timing for employers (which is basically any private business) to register with the state for the new Paid Family Medical Leave program couldn’t be worse or better, depending on your perspective. It started November 1, 2020 and continues to run.
In just six weeks, employers will be required to start withholding .5% of a covered employee’s wages and then make contributions to the state in the form of those collections.
But there’s an exemption that employers need to start considering: A private plan.
In order to qualify for an exemption from making contributions to the CT Paid Leave Authority, employers must offer to all employees a plan that provides all of the same rights, protections, and benefits as the Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) program.
There are plenty of conditions that must be met as well. In order to be approved, a private plan must:
- Offer at least the same number of weeks of benefits
- Offer at least the same level of wage replacement for each week of benefits
- Include no additional requirements or conditions
- Deduct the same amount from employee paychecks as the state plan
- Cover all employees through the duration of their employment
- Apply to all current and future employees at your business
- Be approved by a majority of your employees
- Remain compliant with any additional requirements established by the CT Paid Leave Authority
The state has already reviewed and approved a list of private plan to choose from and this grows weekly. You can find the list here.
The details of the private plan option are still being fully developed but employers can view the authority’s policy regarding such plans here.
Notably, employers can self insure but must provide a surety bond as well.
The exemption is unusual in that employees must be contacted and given the right to vote on whether to approve the plan by secret ballot. Note that the plan must be approved by a majority of all Connecticut employees, not just the ones who end up voting.
For now, the authority is taking a page from Massachusetts and allowing employers to submit a declaration of its intent during this “interim” period. As soon as the final rules are released, employers will likely have 60 days to make their plans final as well.
Employers that are considering this would be wise to consult with their counsel to work through all the issues. The guidance here has been changing frequently.
In the meantime, the authority produced an excellent webinar last night on the subject. You can find all their webinars here.