Connecticut Takes A Step Toward Paid Family And Medical Leave

On Friday, the Connecticut state Senate passed a bill that sets up a task force to study the feasibility of creating a paid family and medical leave insurance program. The House passed the bill earlier this month and it now heads to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s (D) desk.

The task force will consider a program that would provide short-team insurance benefits to workers who need time off for pregnancy, the birth of a child, a non-work related injury or illness, or to take care of a sick family member. It must submit a report on its findings and recommendations by October 1, 2014.

The only other states that have similar programs are California and New Jersey. California’s policy, which took effect in 2004, offers workers partial wage replacement through an insurance program that nearly all workers can pay into. Three other states have Temporary Disability Insurance programs that pay workers a portion of their wages when they take leave.

Only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers have access to paid maternity leave through their employers. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles those who work at firms that have more than 50 employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But due to restrictions in the law, about 40 percent of workers aren’t even covered by the FMLA. And of those who don’t take FMLA leave, nearly half say it was because they can’t afford it.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is just one of three of countries around the world that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave.