Starting Friday, an estimated 1.7 million workers in the state of Connecticut will see half of a percent of every paycheck go to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund. However, they won’t be able to access any paid leave for one year.
“The idea is to fund the plan in year one so that when benefits become available in 2022, there are resources to pay for those paid leave benefits,” Andrea Barton Reeves, executive director of the Paid Leave Authority, said.
Barton Reeves said the new law will take half a percent of every paycheck in 2021 and deposit it in the Paid Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund.
“I don’t know if there’s any particularly ideal time to contribute because money is tight for many people across our state for a variety of reasons,” Barton Reeves said.
But COVID has also highlighted the need for paid leave.
“I think we’ve learned over the last nine and a half months of COVID that certainly paid medical leave makes so much sense because otherwise, people show up to work sick,” Governor Ned Lamont said Wednesday.
Business leaders and Republicans called on Lamont to delay the implementation of the payroll deduction.
“It’s really unfortunate because there are so many people in this state who are struggling, who have either lost work or did not receive the raises that they might normally have received this year,” Eric Gjede, vice president of government affairs for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association said.
Gjede asked the governor to delay implementation, but the governor declined and defended the law.
“There’s more demand than we had expected which means the benefits go down a little bit maybe not 12 weeks, but 11 or 10 weeks. It’s not going to result in the delinquency of the fund, it’s not going to lead to any tax increase,” Lamont said.
Starting in 2022, Connecticut residents will be able to apply for up to 12 weeks of paid leave to take care of a new child, for their own illness or to take care of a sick family member.
“I think it’s kind of unfair, especially for someone like me who doesn’t actually have a family. Especially since you can’t assess the money until 2022,” Justin Van Hoorebeke, of West Hartford, said.
“I do think there’s a benefit to having the opportunity to have paid leave at a time when a family needs it. I work in healthcare and I see a lot of families who are under stressful situations with acute illness," Joy Russell of West Hartford said.