FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE; TEACHERS;
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE;
December 11, 2003
TEACHER ELIGIBILITY FOR PAID LEAVE UNDER PA 03-213
By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst
You asked (1) why PA 03-213 regarding use of paid sick time for the adoption of a child does not apply to teachers, (2) why teachers are exempt from coverage under the state Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and (3) who pays for the leave allowed under PA 03-213.
PA 03-213 does not apply to public school teachers because it amends the state FMLA. The state FMLA expressly excludes local and regional boards of education and private or parochial schools from its definition of an “employer. ” Thus, neither the FMLA nor PA 03-213 applies to teachers.
The exclusion of teachers under the state FMLA dates from the law’s original passage in 1989. In debate on the bill that later became the law, the Senate co-chairman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee stated that the committee believed that public school teachers were already extensively covered by state laws and that it was not necessary to include them. The House Labor Committee co-chairman said that the decision to exclude teachers was a “public policy decision” by the committee and the General Assembly. House floor amendments extended the exclusion to municipal employees and private school teachers as well.
PA 03-213 allows employees to use up to two weeks of accrued paid sick time for certain family emergencies, so employers pay for the leave.
PA 03-213 allows an employee covered by the state FMLA to use up to two weeks of paid sick time to attend (1) to the serious illness of his child, spouse, or parent or (2) for the birth or adoption of his child. The criteria for qualifying for the new right are the same as those that already apply to use of unpaid leave under the state FMLA.
The state FMLA allows qualifying employees take up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave during a 24-month period for their own or a family member’s serious illness or the birth or adoption of a child. The law applies to all Connecticut employers with 75 or more employees except (1) the state, (2) municipalities, (3) local and regional boards of education, and (4) private or parochial elementary and secondary schools (CGS §§ 31-51kk –31-51qq). State employees are covered under a separate state FMLA (§ 5-248a) and municipal and school employees are covered by the federal FMLA, if their employer has at least 50 employees.
Because PA 03-213 amends the state’s private-sector FMLA, it covers the same employers and employees as that law does. That means that public and private school teachers are excluded from the 2003 amendment, just as they are from the underlying law.
TEACHER EXEMPTION FROM STATE FMLA
The exclusion of teachers and other municipal employees from the state FMLA dates back to the law’s original passage in 1989. When the bill that later became the law (sSB 315) was reported out of committee to the Senate, it excluded employees of local and regional boards of education. When the bill was first debated by the Senate on April 19, 1989, Senator Eads asked the Labor and Public Employees Committee co-chairman, Senator Maloney, if the bill affected teachers. Maloney responded:
No, the bill specifically provides an exclusion. Teachers are very extensively and separately addressed in Connecticut state statutes and the feeling of the committee was that statutory coverage of the teaching profession was so extensive that it did not require this additional treatment (Senate Transcript, 4/19/89).
When the bill was called for debate in the House on June 6, 1989, the House adopted an amendment (House “A”) that, among other things, extended the exclusion from the law to municipal employees. In debate on the amendment, Representative Adamo, the Labor Committee co-chairman, stated that the exclusion of board of education and municipal employees was the result of “a public policy choice we made in the Labor Committee and in the amendment. ” (House Transcript, 6/6/89).
The House adopted a second amendment (House “B”) that extended the exclusion to cover employees of private and parochial schools. In supporting House “B,” Rep. Adamo said that the amendment “brought some consistency to the language as it relates to teachers that were already exempted in the public schools. Again, that was a public policy statement and judgment that the committee made and we felt comfortable with. ” (House Transcript, 6/6/89).