The only thing that’s now in between Connecticut workers and a paid family medical leave program is a signature from the governor.
Legislation that allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn or sick family member passed the state house Friday, days after it cleared the senate.
Lindsay Farrell, the executive director of Connecticut Working Families, said the legislation is comprehensive and it represents a landmark victory.
"This gives people economic security and job protection at a time in their life when they need it the most,” Farrell said.” Our neighboring states are already implementing these kinds of programs and the sky has not fallen. We believe that this makes smaller employers more competitive with larger employers. Larger employers have the resources to provide this kind of financial benefit already. Smaller employers struggle with it a little bit more."
But Andy Markowski, a local director of the National Federation of Independent Business, thinks it’s those small employers that take the biggest hit under this paid FMLA plan.
“One thing people need to keep in mind is that the average small business owner doesn’t have a human resources staff or legal staff to figure out how to comply with the complex provisions of family medical leave laws,” Markowski said. "Furthermore, most small businesses are very concerned about having portions of their workforce out for up to three months any given year.”
Governor Ned Lamont announced Friday that he’ll approve the paid FMLA law.
Senate Republican leader Len Fasano called Lamont’s plan to sign the bill a “flip-flop.” That’s because the governor said two weeks ago that he’d veto a previous proposal. Lamont wanted the oversight of the program to be put out to bid to private companies, rather than being executed in-house by the state.
Under the bill as passed, the board administering the program can include private-sector personnel. Lamont can make appointments to the board and select the chairperson.
Farrell, the Connecticut Working Families representative, said that while some of the programs functions may be privatized, she feels it’ll still be a strong, reliable program for the people who need it.