(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that Connecticut workers can now access benefits under the state’s newly launched paid family and medical leave program, which provides wage replacement for those who need to take time away from work to address qualifying health or family concerns.
Overseen by the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, a quasi-public state agency, the program began granting benefits to eligible applicants on January 1, 2022. The program is entirely employee-funded through a payroll deduction of 0.5%, which began on January 1, 2021. The employee contributions are pooled into the Paid Leave Trust, which pays the paid leave benefit. The authority has partnered with Aflac to manage claims and administer benefits.
The amount of income replacement varies based on a worker’s earnings and is capped at 60 times the state minimum wage, or $780/week.
Qualifying reasons to apply for paid leave benefits include:
- To care for one’s own serious health condition (including serving as a bone marrow or organ donor, and pregnancy);
- To care for a family member experiencing a serious health condition;
- To bond with a new child (biological, adopted, or fostered);
- To address issues arising from family violence;
- To care for a military family member injured during federal active duty; or
- To address issues arising from a parent, spouse, or child’s call to federal active duty.
To file a claim, workers are encouraged to submit applications online, which is the fastest way to apply, by visiting ctpaidleave.org. Those who do not have access to the internet, or who have questions and would like to speak with an Aflac customer care advocate, can call the program’s toll-free hotline at 877-499-8606. Hours of operation for a live representative are 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Governor Lamont said, “I signed this legislation into law two and a half years ago, and since then a tremendous amount of effort and dedication has gone into getting us to this point of making paid leave a reality in Connecticut. The people of Connecticut now have a necessary safety net in place if they are faced with family or health concerns. The program is less than two weeks old, and already making a tremendous difference for the 400 residents and counting who’ve been approved for paid family and medical leave and will be able to take care of themselves or a loved one without worrying about how to make ends meet. Taking care of our workers is not only the right thing to do, but also the necessary thing to do to ensure that our state continues to thrive.”
Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said, “Paid leave has been sorely needed for some time, but never more so than now. The individuals and families who will receive paid leave benefits will feel immediate relief, giving them the opportunity to focus on their and their family’s health and wellbeing instead of worrying about how to make ends meet during an already difficult time.”
Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, said, “We have accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time in standing this program up. The authority is grateful to our various partners, both within state government and externally, for sharing the same passion that we do for the program – and for those it will help – and aiding us to bring it to fruition.”
State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), co-chair of the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, said, “Serving as the 24th District’s state senator has been such an honor, and it all feels worthwhile when we are able to enact programs that really make a difference for Connecticut’s working families. In 2022, young mothers won’t have to return to work immediately after giving birth, sons and daughters will be able to care for a parent at the end of life without risking their job, and there will be a financial cushion for people when a health crisis overwhelms the family.”
State Representative Robyn Porter (D-Hamden, New Haven), co-chair of the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, said, “I’m humbled to have championed the passage of the nation’s most progressive family and medical leave program. Importantly, the Connecticut paid leave program ensures that no one will have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or a family member. Subsequently, the program recognizes the diverse definition of family in our society and echoes the definition of family to encompass those who may not be blood relatives but are family by close affinity. Moreover, it delivers racial equity to women of color who are oftentimes the breadwinners in their households, which makes this an overall transformative and historical piece of legislation.”
Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services and chief operating officer, who also serves as chair of the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority’s board of directors, said, “This program is in place for the people of Connecticut who need it most – who are hard workers, who support our economy, and who care for their families. Paid leave is yet another reason that Connecticut is a great place to work, live, and do business.”
Aflac U.S. President Teresa White said, “We are proud to be a trusted partner with the state as the administrator of this new program. Our team, right here in Connecticut, is committed to delivering first-class services to the people and families that rely on the timely delivery of benefits through the Connecticut paid leave program. We will apply the same standards of care, excellence and innovative approach that makes us a leading provider of supplemental healthcare benefits – serving more than 50 million people worldwide.”
Nora Duncan, AARP Connecticut state director, said, “We rely on family caregivers to help older adults and people with disabilities live safely and independently in their homes, which is where most people want to remain as they age. Connecticut’s new paid family and medical leave program ensures that working family caregivers no longer have to choose between supporting their loved ones and paying their bills.”
Janée Woods Weber, executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, said, “Historically, women, people of color, and low-income workers have been least likely to have access to paid leave benefits through their jobs – but no more. Connecticut’s paid leave program will go a long way towards correcting the economic inequities many women and workers of color have faced by ensuring financial security when individuals need to take time from work. This essential program will undoubtedly improve the well-being and quality of life for countless Connecticut families.”
Gretchen Raffa, vice president of public policy, advocacy, and organizing for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said, “Access to paid family and medical leave will help give Connecticut residents the freedom to take care of their health and their families without worrying about losing their job. Paid family and medical leave keeps people safe and healthy – especially important now during a global pandemic – and allows workers to prioritize their health and wellbeing, welcome new family members, and care for loved ones who are ill. Planned Parenthood of Southern New England was a proud member of the campaign to pass one of the most inclusive paid family leave policies in the country. These benefits will improve the lives of our patients and residents for years to come.”