The COVID-19 public health crisis highlights our nation’s urgent need for real, comprehensive, and inclusive paid family and medical leave that ensures no worker is forced to choose between their paycheck and their own health or the health of a family member.
This much is clear; our state is only as healthy as our underserved or marginalized residents. We are encouraged by the several immediate actions of Governor Lamont to protect Connecticut residents; however, workers across our state still lack access to basic protections in the workplace during the crisis, including job protected paid sick leave to care for a loved one or recover themselves.
For workers in Connecticut to maintain their economic security while they take time away from work during COVID-19, we recommend Governor Lamont take the following actions:
- Close the gaps in coverage between Connecticut’s paid sick leave law and the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Connecticut became the first state in the nation in 2011 to require all employers of 50 or more to provide paid sick leave to workers; however, the law leaves out small businesses and only applies to service workers. The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides workers of employers of less than 500 up to 80 hours (10 days) of paid sick leave during the crisis. We urge Governor Lamont and lawmakers to eliminate the job classification list and employer threshold in Connecticut’s paid sick leave law to ensure all Connecticut workers are able to take the time they need without risking a paycheck, regardless of their job title or the size of their employer.
- Ensure Connecticut’s Unemployment Insurance program remains fully solvent and that benefits are not reduced: Workers who file for unemployment insurance should not see any sort of reduction in their benefits, especially during this time of heightened financial stress and uncertainty. Connecticut must also take appropriate steps to ensure the Unemployment Trust Fund is solvent and that the Department of Labor is fully staffed and able to process the influx of claims.
- Continue implementation of paid family and medical leave: In 2019, Connecticut passed one of the strongest paid family and medical leave programs in the nation. Now more than ever, workers need this important program. While payroll contributions will not begin until early 2021, we urge the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority to continue to implement the program and adhere to the timeline outlined in the law for benefits to be fully available to workers in 2022.
** If you are a worker looking to understand your rights to unemployment insurance benefits or other paid time off during the COVID-19 crisis, check out CWEALF’s Know Your Rights Guide in English and Spanish.