Controversy Over Hiring of Company to Administer State's Paid Family Medical Leave Program

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A Fortune 500 company is creating 150 jobs to administer the state's new paid family leave program, but not everybody is thrilled. 

“Connecticut taxpayers expect the state's paid family medical leave program to be reliable, transparent, and accountable to them,” Carlos Moreno, state director of Connecticut Working Families said.

By hiring Aflac to administer the claims, advocates and union members say it blurs the line. 

“Managing the program however becomes less straightforward now that it has been contracted out to Aflac,” Moreno said.  

The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority awarded Aflac a three-year, $72 million contract to administer claims for the new paid family medical leave program. 

“The statute requires that payments begin in January. So there’s this extremely short deadline, timeline in which to build a very sophisticated structure,” Andrea Barton Reeves, director of the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, said. 

About 18,500 state workers were not paying into the paid family medical leave fund that was started in January, but state officials fixed the issue and those state employees are now paying into it. NBC Connecticut's Christine Stuart discusses the latest on the fund in this week's Face the Facts.

Barton Reeves said they needed to partner with a private company to make sure they met their deadlines. 

“Our primary goal was to make sure every single person who is contributing to this paid leave authority gets access to those benefits in the way that they should and in the time frame that’s been promised to them,” Barton Reeves said.

The decision also means Aflac will create 150 jobs in Windsor. 

Windsor Mayor Don Trinks, who also owns Bart’s Drive-in, is excited.

“To have somebody come in with this many jobs to a market we were concerned about is even better news than we could have asked for,” Trinks said. 

With the pandemic, many companies are thinking about giving up their office space. 

“An office job like this is really what we like to see. And not only that but word kinda spreads when people find out Windsor is a good place to do business,” Trinks says. 

He added: “Any mayor or first selectman would love to see somebody come into their town with 100, 150,  maybe more jobs, so in this economy, we’re welcoming that.” 

Union members wanted to see the jobs go to the state. 

“We believe paid family and medical leave insurance should be administered by workers who by career choice and training are subject matter experts dedicated to protecting the public interest,” Xavier Gordon, a union member and employee at the Department of Labor, said.  

“I do share a concern about the privatization aspect of this. I do believe that a function of government is to provide good services for our constituents,” Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, said. 

Barton Reeves said they have the best interest of Connecticut residents built into the contract. 

“There is no incentive built into this contract for Aflac to deny any claims. The incentive quite honestly is for them to pay those claims,” she added.

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