OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 710 (File 24, as amended by Senate “A”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING UPDATES TO THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT.

SUMMARY:

This bill permits an employee to take up to 26 weeks in unpaid leave from work under the state family and medical leave (FML) acts to care for an immediate family member or next of kin who is a current member of the U. S. armed forces, National Guard, or the military reserves and is:

● undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy;

● otherwise in outpatient status; or

● on the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness.

The bill provides for 26 weeks of leave over a 12-month period under the private sector law and 26 weeks of leave over a two-year period under the state employee law. Under both private and state employee provisions, the leave is a one-time benefit for each armed forces member per serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty. Under the private sector law, the 12-month period begins on the first day of military caregiver leave.

The bill incorporates the new military caregiver leave into existing provisions of FML laws for private sector and state employees regarding written certification of medical need, intermittent leave, and other items.

The bill specifies that leave taken pursuant to private sector FML does not run concurrently with a transfer to “light duty” work in lieu of regular work duties under the Workers' Compensation Act.

*Senate Amendment “A”: (1) specifies the employee eligible for leave must be related to a current member of the armed forces, (2) specifies the armed forces member's serious illness or injury must be incurred in the line of duty, (3) specifies the 26 weeks of leave is a one-time benefit for each armed forces member per serious injury or illness, (4) provides a definition of “son or daughter,” (5) deletes a provision that allows “human resources personnel” to be informed of work restrictions or accommodations for an employer instead of “supervisors,” and (6) makes additional conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

MILITARY CAREGIVER LEAVE UNDER FML ACTS

Definitions

The bill uses an existing statutory definition of “armed forces” which means the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force and any reserve component, including the Connecticut National Guard performing duty as provided under federal law (CGS 27-103).

It also defines “son or daughter” as a biological, adopted, foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for whom the eligible employee or armed forces member stood in loco parentis and who is any age.

Eligible Relatives

The bill allows a spouse, son or daughter, parent, or next of kin to take unpaid military caregiver leave under state FML law. It defines “next of kin” as the service member's nearest blood relative, other than his or her spouse, parent, child, in the following order of priority:

1. blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the service member by court decree or statutory provisions,

2. siblings,

3. grandparents,

4. aunts and uncles, and

5. first cousins.

If the service member has designated in writing another blood relative as his or her nearest blood relative for purposes of military caregiver leave, then the designated individual must be deemed the member's next of kin.

Job Protection for Military Leave Caregivers

As with employees taking leave under the existing family and medical leave laws, the bill requires the employer to restore the military caregiver to his or her previous position or an equivalent one.

Conditions or Requirements for Military Caregiver Leave

Private Sector FML Changes. Military caregivers are treated, for the most part, like other employees taking unpaid leave under the existing private sector FML. This means:

1. an eligible employee may elect or eligible employer may require the employee to substitute any accrued paid vacation leave, personal leave, or family leave for any part of the 26-week unpaid leave available to care for a service member;

2. when medical treatment is planned and foreseeable, the employee must make reasonable efforts to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer's operations;

3. when both spouses are eligible for leave and work for the same employer, the leave is limited to an aggregate of 26 weeks during any 12-month period;

4. the employer may require a certification issued from the health care provider of the service member, and the employee must provide this to the employer in a timely manner;

5. intermittent leave or leave on a reduced schedule is allowed and requires, as part of the certification, a statement that the employee's intermittent leave is necessary to care for the service member;

6. an employer may assign an employee on intermittent leave or reduced schedule to a job of equal pay and benefits that better accommodates the recurring periods of leave; and

7. the intermittent leave or leave on a reduced schedule certification must include the expected leave duration and the schedule of the intermittent leave or reduced schedule.

State Employee FML Changes. The following provisions are part of the existing state employee FML and the bill makes them part of the state employee military caregiver leave. It:

1. requires prior written certification for the leave from the service member's physician, including the probable leave duration, and

2. requires the employee taking leave, before leave begins, to sign a statement of the employee's intent to return to work.

BACKGROUND

Interaction with Federal FML Law

Under federal law, if an employee meets the qualifications of both the state and the federal FML acts, the employer is obligated to provide the more generous of the two benefits.

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008, (Public Law 110-181), amended the federal FML act to allow eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or ailment. This law covers both the private and public sectors.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

11

Nay

0

(02/17/2009)

Public Safety and Security Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

18

Nay

0

(04/17/2009)