Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA
Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA

UPDATED

Continuing to recap various employment law bills out of the Connecticut General Assembly, the legislature passed a measure Wednesday night that brings Connecticut’s FMLA law more in line with the federal counterpart.

The federal FMLA was amended back in 2008 (prior post on the subject here) to provide coverage for any “qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that the spouse, son or daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call to order in the armed forces.  Regulations were put in place as well.

The new Connecticut rule — which will go into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature — covers that same type of qualifying exigency. Indeed, it defines such an exigency by reference to the U.S. Department of Labor’s regulations on that very subject.

What this means is that employees in Connecticut will now have 16 weeks over a 24 month period for such a leave.  You can review Senate Bill 262 here.

The new rule, however, is not a mirror image of the federal counterpart but brings its nearly up to date with it. And as readers will recall, there is a 26 week period for caregiver leave also in place in Connecticut as a result of P.A. 09-70 back in 2009.

Ultimately, employers in Connecticut will have to update their FMLA policies and procedures to account for this leave, if you haven’t been allowing military leaves under CTFMLA.

And while it’s obviously important to support the military and those that serve — the confusing and overlapping laws on the subject don’t make it easy for employers who want to do right by their employees.

Late last week, the Connecticut House approved Senate Bill 710 (S.B. 710) which makes some important changes to the state FMLA law to bring it more in line with the federal family and medical leave act rules as they relate to military caregiver leaves of absences.  

I’ve covered the bill in a post earlier this month and nothing has changed since the Senate passed it.  The bill now moves on to Governor Rell for her approval. 

Importantly, the provisions of this bill will be effective immediately upon the governor’s signature.  

The core provision of the bill (you can download the text here) is the creation of a one-time leave related to injured armed forces members.

Employees who are immediate family members of those servicemembers or next of kin will be entitled to this leave. If there are any nuances between federal and state law, the more generous of the two benefits will apply. 

This measure will only apply to those employers who are already covered under state FMLA rules. (You can read my prior posts about state FMLA rules here.)

Employers should immediately start revising their FMLA policies to ensure compliance with this new state law.  This may require revising some forms as well to document the leave.  Note that this will not be that different from what has been implemented at the federal FMLA level, but because many employers in Connecticut are still unaware of those provisions, this new state law should serve as a wakeup call to get the policies updated now.