Testimony in Support of Our 2013 FMLI Task Force Bill
Permanent Commission on the Status of Women
Women make up 48% of Connecticut’s workforce. Policies to support workers as they provide care for family members or take care of their own health are essential for a strong Connecticut workforce. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a policy that allows workers to balance work and family responsibilities since it provides employment protection. However, three in four employees (78%) who have needed to take FMLA have not taken it because they could not afford to take unpaid leave. Read PCSW’s full testimony here.
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo
CT Department of Labor
American Association of Retired Persons – CT Chapter
AARP is supportive of efforts at the state and federal level that increase paid leave and cover more workers for longer periods of time so that employees can both attend to their own health needs and care for loved ones. This bill provides an opportunity to bring a variety of key constituencies to the table to explore policy options that might provide relief to employees who find themselves in difficult health-care situations without placing undo burden on employers or the State of Connecticut. Read AARP’s full testimony here.
CT Association of Human Services
At some point, nearly everyone needs time away from work to recover from a serious illness or care for a sick loved one or new child. This is certainly the experience for many of Connecticut’s working families and these unpaid leaves have ramifications. According to a study released by the American Journal of Medicine, more than 40% of bankruptcies are the result of lost wages due to serious illness. Read CAHS’s full testimony here.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Connecticut
Mental illness exists in every state, every city and every neighborhood of the U.S. One in four adults—nearly 60 million Americans—experiences a mental health disorder in a given year. One in 17 lives with serious mental illness, and one in 10 children lives with a serious mental or emotional disorder. Family Medical Leave Insurance would provide relief for individuals living with mental illness to take the time they need to manage their illness while at the same time maintaining their place of employment. Read NAMI’s full testimony here.
Advocacy for Patients With Chronic Illnesses
Unfortunately, FMLA does not provide for paid time off and many Connecticut workers are not fortunate enough to have paid leave from their employers. Health care costs keep rising and it is increasingly difficult for chronically ill workers to take unpaid leaves of absence. Many opt to suffer through flare-ups or relapses of their condition and remain at work. This not only hinders their performance on the job, but also exacerbates the symptoms of their illness, worsening their prognosis. The inability to take unpaid leaves of absence also results in many people applying for disability, unemployment, or welfare benefits. Read their full testimony here.
CT Women’s Education & Legal Fund
What FMLA does not do is provide paid time off, an essential element to ensure that families can continue to address immediate needs without devastating them economically. This current unpaid employment leave system disproportionately affects female employees. Women are responsible for family members therefore causing their families severe economic hardships during already stressful times. When employees take family and medical leave, they are left with one salary or no-salary in single-parent households. Employees that are covered and decide to take unpaid leave often suffer serious economic hardship as a result. Read CWEALF’s full testimony here.
CT National Organization for Women
Newborns of mothers who take a paid leave of at least 12 weeks are more likely to get better attention and required care, including breastfeeding, medical check-ups and important immunizations. An additional ten weeks of paid leave for new parents can reduce post-neonatal mortality up to 4.5 percent. Read CT NOW’s full testimony here.
Citizen for Economic Opportunity
The aging of our nation’s population and the increase in the baby boomer generation will increase the need for Family and Medical Leave Insurance. American families are juggling the burden of work and family needs. Managed care has shortened hospital stays which means that more and more families spend a greater amount of time providing care to a loved one. Read CEO’s full testimony here.
CT Breastfeeding Coalition
Mothers and infants need time following birth to learn to breastfeed so that when they return to the workplace, it will be easier to continue. Numerous studies have indicated that mothers who do not lose income following birth have better breastfeeding outcomes. Without family medical leave insurance, mothers in Connecticut are forced to choose between long-term health for themselves and their children and uninterrupted income. This difficult choice appears to unfairly impact women and children already at risk for poorer health outcomes than others. Read the coalition’s full testimony here.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
The need for access to paid family leave is a social justice issue that directly impacts many of the women and men of all income levels, who come through our doors seeking health care, hoping to prevent or postpone pregnancy. Or hoping to welcome a child into their family. Read their full testimony here.
CT Voices for Children
Connecticut has a longstanding Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which provides job protection during an illness, around pregnancy and the birth of a child, or during the illness of a family member. However, many workers are unable to take advantage of FMLA because they are not eligible, either working at firms too small to be covered or without sufficient employment tenure. Read their full testimony here.
CT Early Childhood Alliance
Read the Alliance’s testimony here.
Members of the Public:
I was one of the many sick children that a parent had to care for when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 24. I had to go on medical leave from my job in New York and return to Connecticut in order to undergo chemotherapy. My mother was forced to miss countless hours of work for an entire year as a result of my extensive treatment. Fortunately, I had family members that did not work and were able to care for me concurrently so that my mother did not need to formally register under FMLA. I can honestly say I do not know what my family’s financial situation would be today had we had to fully rely on my mother as my sole caretaker with no income at the time we needed it most. Read Amanda’s full testimony here.