How does Connecticut’s updated paid vacation program work?

Illustration by Mohamed Hassan / Pixabay.

Employees of Connecticut businesses and nonprofits can now submit claims for the state’s updated paid vacation program, with benefits scheduled to be available in January.

The program was promulgated in 2019 and is funded by qualified employees working in the state.

“As we all know, we’ve all started taking that half a percent of our paychecks and contributing to the paid vacation trust fund, which is around $ 301 million to date,” said Andrea Barton Reeves, Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, in a recent article in Business Development Corp. Women’s Webinar.

The program covers employers who have one or more employees in the state, and these can include nonprofit organizations and private sector companies with a unionized workforce.

“If you are a sole proprietor or self-employed, you can also participate in the program by choosing to participate,” said Reeves, adding that these employers would have to stay in the program for three years to ensure coverage. “If you are a sole proprietor and choose not to join and you have employees that you issue a W2 to, they must contribute even if you are a sole proprietor. “

Reeves noted that federal government employees, certain state government employees, municipalities, and local or regional electoral boards are not eligible for the program, nor are employees of non-public elementary or secondary schools and parish schools. Non-unionized government employees are covered.

“Certain other entities are also exempt for a number of reasons – including those that operate in interstate commerce, those employed by governments of other states, and spouses of serving military personnel who continue to pay taxes in their state. ‘origin. instead of where they’re deployed, which in this case would be Connecticut, ”she said.

Andrea Barton Reeves.

The program is an extension of the Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act, which was previously limited to employers employing 75 or more people. Under this version of the program, a qualified employee had to work for their employer for 12 months and 1,000 hours to qualify. It also included caveats that required some employees to give up their accumulated leave before they could claim a leave.

As of January, the previous requirement of the hours-based qualification program has disappeared and the possibility of returning to work after taking time off is guaranteed for those who have worked for at least three months for their employer.

Rather than getting 16 weeks in a 24 month period, you will get 12 weeks in a 12 month period, “Reeve said, adding that while” an employer can still require an employee to use their accumulated time. , he can no longer force them to exhaust it.

The period of leave can also be adjusted to meet his needs, Reeves said, with options including a single block of time or a reduced-time leave that reduces weekly hours in order to deal with issues requiring the leave.

“We have what’s called intermittent leave, where we take time off in separate, non-consecutive periods instead of taking a block or a schedule,” she said. “This often happens when you need recurrent treatment or are taking someone for recurrent treatment, or if there is a chronic health problem like migraines or colitis and the symptoms of these conditions can be unpredictable. “

Reeves has identified Aflac as the program’s claims administration partner, and this company receives the documentation submitted to determine eligibility and calculate the benefit amount.

“If you earn minimum wage or below, you get 95% of your basic weekly wage,” she said. “If you earn more than that, it’s a bit more complex calculation. But everyone gets, no matter what they earn, a maximum cap of one-third of 60 times the minimum wage – right now, no one can make more than $ 780 a week. “

Reeves recommended visiting the website for detailed information on the program’s eligibility requirements and benefits, admitting that his agency “does not send out paid vacation communication directly to employees.”

Maria D. Ervin