Twenty-eight years ago on February 5th, 1993, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law! At the time, FMLA was landmark legislation that guaranteed job-protected time off from work to eligible workers. Twenty-eight years later, millions of workers have utilized the law to welcome a child, care for an ill loved one, or recover from a serious illness. 

The passage of FMLA was just the beginning. While the law does provide job protection, it only applies to workers at larger employers after they’ve worked a certain number of hours. The leave FMLA provides is also unpaid, which is unrealistic for workers who cannot afford to miss even one week’s worth of pay, especially as they welcome a new addition to their family, or receive an increase in medical bills while recovering from an illness or surgery, or caring for a loved one. Decades after the law’s passage, we know that workers in our state and across the country need more. 

There’s good news: payroll contributions to Connecticut’s paid family and medical leave program – one of the strongest in the nation – began just a few weeks ago on January 1, 2021. Just under a year from now in January 2022, eligible workers will begin to receive comprehensive paid leave benefits. Check out the Campaign’s FAQ on the law here.

Connecticut’s paid family and medical leave program makes it possible for workers to care for themselves and their loved ones – including extended or chosen family – or welcome a new child without the fear of falling behind on bills. Click here to learn more about the program and the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority, the agency that will administer paid leave in our state. 

We’ve made progress in Connecticut, but access to paid family and medical leave shouldn’t depend on where you live or where you work. That’s why workers across the U.S. also need the FAMILY Act, federal legislation sponsored by Connecticut’s own Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro that would create a national paid family and medical leave program. Read more about the FAMILY Act here

Right now – in the middle of a global pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on the financial, physical, and emotional health of families across the nation –  too many workers are facing an impossible choice: go to work and earn a paycheck, or stay home and care for themself and their family. The COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impacts, especially for workers and women of color, heightens the need for real, comprehensive paid family and medical leave in our state and in our country. Twenty-eight years after FMLA, paid leave is past due. 

Additional Resources 

Check out more of the Paid Leave Authority’s recent webinars and informational videos here. Find a full list of upcoming events and webinars with the Authority here.

By: Hannah Halloran, MSW Intern, CWEALF