In 1990, three years before the Federal Government passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Connecticut passed a state FMLA. FMLA offers 12-16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, which workers can use to recover from an illness, to care for a new baby, or to care for a sick family member.
Unfortunately, many CT workers are not covered by or eligible for FMLA. Even among those who are eligible, unpaid leave is often an impossibility.
It is estimated that only half of all workers nationally are both covered and eligible for FMLA. In order to be eligible you need to:
- Work for an employer with 50 or 75 employees (federal and state), and
- Work for an employer for 1000-1250 hours before being eligible.
According to a follow-up study of the FMLA, 78% of employees who needed family or medical leave but didn’t take it said they didn’t take it because they couldn’t afford to lose any part of their income. And of those who took unpaid leave, 15% were forced to go on public assistance while they were out.
Paid family and medical leave will provide relief to families:
- For most, the only option is to cobble together whatever forms of leave they may already have such as a vacation or sick leave, which is often inadequate, or to quit.
- In a recent study, 12% of private sector workers and 17% of public sector workers reported having access to paid family leave through their employer. Only 5% of part-time workers have access to paid leave.
- Workers who have access to paid leave after a child’s birth tend to remain in the workforce, have higher wages over time and rely less on public assistance and food stamp benefits.
- Women who return to work after a paid leave have 39% lower likelihood of receiving public assistance and a 40% lower likelihood of food stamp receipt in the year following the child’s birth, when compared to those who return to work or take no leave at all.
And will provide relief to businesses:
- If workers can draw benefits from a family & medical leave insurance program in lieu of some part of what the employer would otherwise provide, the employer enjoys a costs savings.
- In the first comprehensive study of California’s Family Leave Insurance program, the great majority (87%) of employers reported either cost savings or no additional costs associated with implementation because they temporarily assigned the work of employees on leave to other employees or hired temporary replacements.
- When employees know that they have the ability to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one, they experience greater job satisfaction and are more productive employees.
Need more info? Check out our fact sheets here.