In case you missed it, the Campaign for Paid Family Leave enjoyed significant success this past legislative session. Before reaching a halt in the House and Senate, the bill (HB 6932: An Act Concerning Paid Family and Medical Leave) passed both the Labor and Appropriations Committees with bipartisan support. Over the past five months of this year’s session, the Campaign has increased awareness throughout the state. The Campaign now has support from 55 advocacy organizations representing the needs of working families, including small business representation. More than 50 pieces of testimony were submitted in support of the bill during its public hearing on March 5. This is not to mention our Story Bank, which was flooded with over a dozen personal accounts of the financial and emotional strains of unpaid leave just in the past few weeks.
While this year’s legislative session is officially over, the push for a system of paid family leave continues. Earlier this week, the Connecticut legislature passed its budget implementer, which includes a specific allocation of funds to the development of an implementation plan for a system of paid family and medical leave in Connecticut (see Section 422 of SB 1502). This is a momentous step for the Campaign and for supporters of family friendly workplace policies across the state.
The implementation plan will allow the Connecticut Department of Labor and other state agencies to study and discuss the technology, infrastructure and staffing needed to create a paid leave program. Participating agencies will determine the ins and outs of a possible system of paid family and medical leave, such as how to collect deductions and distribute compensation, whether the program can be built onto any existing system and the level of contributions necessary to sustain the program’s administration. The implementer allocated $140,000 to hire a consultant to complete this work by February, 2016.
What does all of this mean? Essentially, the legislature’s allocation of funds towards developing a plan for paid leave program highlights the state’s commitment to paid family leave, takes a leap forward in continuing the conversation, and highlights Connecticut’s return to the forefront of supportive, family friendly workplace policies. With the passage of this session’s budget implementer, Connecticut inches closer to becoming just the fourth state in the nation to enact a paid family and medical leave program.