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December 1, 2021

CT’s paid family and medical leave program now accepting applications

HBJ FILE PHOTO Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority, is spearheading outreach to small businesses to prepare them for launch of the state’s new paid leave program.

Connecticut’s paid family and medical leave program began accepting applications today, more than two years after an act of the General Assembly laid the groundwork for the new benefit system.

At a press conference in New Haven, state officials, including Gov. Ned Lamont, hailed the milestone as a major step toward the actual disbursement of extended leave benefits starting in January.

“It was one of those ideas whose time was coming,” Lamont said. “And it came in under budget and ahead of schedule, which you can’t always say about government [programs].”

The governor said the program will have an immediate and beneficial impact, providing an expanded safety net for those coping with demanding situations outside of the workplace.

Getting the program up and running, Lamont said, “gives people confidence that we can make a difference in people’s lives.”

When the new leave program kicks in Jan. 1, eligible workers will be able to take up to 12 paid weeks off for a number of health- and family-related events, including the birth or adoption of a child, serious illness, pregnancy, organ or blood marrow donation or domestic violence. Residents are also eligible for paid time off to take care of a sick or injured relative.

The amount of income replacement varies based on a worker’s earnings and is capped at 60 times the state minimum wage. The combination of employer-provided benefits and benefits received under the paid leave program cannot exceed 100% of a worker’s normal weekly earnings.

According to Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority, the program currently has $300 million in its trust fund and is projected to have $410 million in its trust fund by the end of January.

A recent actuarial analysis shows the program — even with heavy usage — will remain solvent even five years out, Barton Reeves said.

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