Connecticut’s legislature passed Public Act 19-25 to amend the state’s Family and Medical Leave Act, which the Governor has signed into law. Much attention has gone to PA 19-25’s creation of paid FML leave, although it will take some time to get that up and running (employee contributions start 01/01/2021, with paid benefit availability starting 01/01/2022). While this will create some burdens for employers, the purpose is sound; making use of FML time off from work viable for those who might otherwise not be able to afford it. However, PA 19-25 also amends key provisions of the state’s FMLA, and the changes may be difficult for small businesses to absorb.
Currently, only private sector employers of 75 or more employees must comply with CT FMLA requirements, and, to be eligible, an employee must work for the employer for at least 12 months and 1,000 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding the start of a qualifying leave. However, PA 19-25 lowers these thresholds. Starting on 01/01/2022, businesses with just one employee will be covered by CT FMLA, and an employee need work only three months, with no minimum hours required, to be leave eligible.
Because most small businesses have relatively few employees and limited financial resources, it is foreseeable that these businesses may face hardships from the lowered CT FMLA thresholds. While some small businesses will be able to manage these situations, others will have more difficulty. Therefore, businesses should be considering how to address the potential leave of employees now, and determining what options they may have. As can be said for most legal developments, a little advance planning can pay big dividends in the future.