Labor and Public Employees Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Labor and Public Employees Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill would establish a Family Medical Leave Compensation (FMLC) program for employees utilizing the Family Medical Leave Act to provide for paid time-off for such leave.
The substitute language:
(1) Requires all employees who have earned at least $9,300 over 12 consecutive months to enroll in the FMLC program, instead of allowing them opt-in;
(2) Changes the dates for when the fund will begin accepting contributions and paying benefits;
(3) Changes the employee eligibility requirements for FMLA leave and;
(4) Makes various minor, technical and conforming changes.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Kevin Lembo CT State Comptroller:
Comptroller Kevin Lembo supports this bill. In his written testimony he points to several statistics that exemplifies the need for this legislation. He states that 48% of working caregivers in the state do not have access to paid family or medical leave. He also described the number of volunteer hours caregivers provide which saves the current health system billions of dollars. He also describes a benefit to the business community citing a similar California law which employers have associated with increased morale and loyalty among their employees without significant impact to their profit margins.
Sharon Palmer, Commissioner, Department of Labor:
The Commissioner expressed her support for the bill however she also expressed concerns regarding the strain it would put on her department to enact the policy aspects of the bill. She also stated that there was no money in appropriations for the expansion of her Department.
State Representative Matthew Lesser, 100th district:
Representative Lesser expressed his support of the bill. He describes the opposition to this bill as similar to that of the opposition for the Federal Family & medical leave act of 1993. He states that despite strong opposition and predictions of loss of business competitiveness in the United States with regards to the FMLA act. The country showed strong economic growth in the time following the implementation of that legislation. He states that this bill is no different and provides progress towards having the country join the other developed nations in providing paid family leave.
Vicki Veltri, State Healthcare Advocate, Office of the Healthcare Advocate(OHA):
The OHA supports HB 6932. Their position on this legislation is that it will help manage the financial stress associated with taking time off of work to care for loved ones. They maintain that the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world which does not protect workers' rights in this fashion and currently, one of only three nations that don't have paid maternity leave (the others being Swaziland and Papua New Guinea). They also state that similar opposition to the 2011 sick leave legislation resulted none of the forecast loss of revenue or productivity. The organization does disagree with the opt-in portion of the bill preferring an automatic system which would cut down on the education process by making contribution and participation in the program mandatory. They also take issue with the implementation timeline.
Carolyn Treiss, Executive Director, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women:
The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women supports H.B. 6932. Carolyn Treiss states in her written testimony that women in the U.S. often lose their employment during the period of time they earn the most statistically. This is because women between their late 20's to early 40's often need to choose between either having a family or having a career. Even if they do have a child and retain their career a woman may incur a lot of debt because current FMLA laws do not require that maternity leave be paid. Ms. Treiss also states that only 16% of employers across the country provide paid maternity leave and those women who are able to return to work are 40% less likely to get some sort of government assistance. So it is in the interest of the state to provide women the ability to return to work in a healthy economic state.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Catherine Bailey, Legal & Public Policy Director, CT Campaign for Paid Family Leave:
The CT Campaign for Paid Family Leave champions this bill. They state that CT's original FMLA laws were a good start, however many of the lowest income residents are not able to participate because they cannot afford to not receive a paycheck. They commend this bill by allowing the lowest income recipients to still receive 100% of their paycheck with minimal private sector impact. The list the pros of the bill in their written testimony are: Self-funded system, Accessibility, Eligibility, Family Members, Reimbursement, Length of Leave, and Job Protection.
Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri, Political Director, CT Working Families Organization:
CT Working Families supports H.B. 6932. The Working Families Organization suggests that current legislation is inadequate to address the issues working families endure today. While FMLA laws may protect workers to take personal sick time that time does not extend to family members and does not cover employees working for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. They also argue that changing workforce demographics show more women and of multiple races entering the workforce. Women are still the main caregivers in families and this demographic finds themselves already at a disadvantage with lower wages than men. Workplace policies they argue have not kept up with this changing demographic and do not provide their employed caregivers the support they need.
Lori Pelletier, Executive Secretary Treasurer, AFL-CIO:
The AFL-CIO supports H.B. 6932. They state that this is a step forward for worker rights.
Elizabeth Fraser, Policy Analyst, CT Association for Human Services (CAHS):
CAHS supports H.B. 6932. The CAHS cites the United Ways ALICE study by way of explanation for why this bill is good for Connecticut. That study suggests that ALICE or (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) describes over a third of all families in Connecticut. These families account for why over 78% of eligible workers do not utilize the current FMLA laws. For these families they cannot afford to go without pay. This bill will close the privilege gap between ALICE families and upper middle class families. It will also allow them the chance to provide care for family members during times of emergency.
Nora Duncan, State Director, AARP:
The AARP supports H.B. 6932 with recommendations. They believe the bill as a step forward in supporting caregivers throughout the state. Based on their surveys on the subject most adult believe that in home care with a family caregiver is the ideal situation after life becomes too difficult to perform daily task due to aging or illness. The AARP also makes several suggestions to expand the bill in their written testimony.
Win Heimer, Exec Vice President, CT Alliance for Retired Americans (CTARA):
The CTARA supports HB 6932. They report that CT has over half a million adults 65 years or older. This statistic is noteworthy in that they are currently the fastest growing demographic in the state. To guarantee that there are always care providers for this demographic FMLA is a necessity.
Brian Anderson, Legislative and Political representative, Council 4 AFCME:
The Council 4 AFCME supports H.B. 6932. They state that this legislation is a small step for an area of the economy which is often neglected in public policy. This area being capital and labor, this bill goes a long way to alleviate the pressures put on working families.
Michele Griswold, Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition (CBFC):
The Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition supports this bill. They state that times have changed and medical science now shows the benefits of personal time and care given to newborns. In the recent past women did not go to work or they did not return to work after pregnancy. Today however 60% of women return to work within 6 months of giving birth. The coalition cites a study performed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which recommends about 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. Despite this study and several others like it showing the health and personal success attributed to breastfeeding only 2 in 10 Connecticut children receive the suggested minimum amount of breastfeeding. They also cite another AAP document that suggests that breastfeeding should be considered a basic health issue such as vaccinations.
Erik Rettig, Northeast Outreach Manager, Small Business Majority:
The Small Business Majority support HB 6932. They state in their written testimony that small businesses often need to compete with large businesses for employee benefits. This law would put small businesses on even footing with large business that provide some form of medical and family leave. They state that many of their firm's clients already have some formal or informal family medical leave in place. 40% of their clients offer either full or partial pay. The Small Business Majority commends the bill as an opportunity for small businesses to support their employees but not interfere with their bottom line.
Matt Arciuolo, Arciuolo Shoes:
Mr. Arciuolo submitted testimony in support of HB 6932. In his written testimony he writes that he has six employees that have all worked for him for six years or longer. He is always supportive of his employees when they are sick and need time off he finds that it makes for a better working environment and that at his employees are more loyal and dedicated to the business. He supports the bill and the benefits it would bring to the business community.
**Other Sources of Support**:
SEIU, 9 CT Organizations, and 72 Private Citizens
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
The MetroHartford Alliance, which functions as the City of Hartford's Chamber of Commerce, opposes this bill. The organization states that the fiscal challenges that are facing the state will not be positively affected by this legislation. They state that mandates to businesses will likely create an inhospitable place for businesses to conduct themselves and grow.
Eric Gjede, Assistant Counsel, Connecticut Business and Industry Association(CBIA):
The CBIA opposes this bill. The CBIA does not however oppose paid employee family and medical leave programs provided they are affordable for both the employees and the employers however this legislation they argue creates a one size fits all mandate on small businesses. Cost to businesses operating in Connecticut is already higher than in other states.
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB):
The NFIB opposes H.B. 6932. The NFIB suggests there is little need to expand FMLA eligibility. Connecticut has already expanded the eligibility under this act where it extends past Federal mandates and surpasses other states' laws. According to them 96% of all small businesses already provide friendly working practices including flexible hours. They also suggest that these mandates would create increased costs to businesses to even comply with the new laws with paperwork and manpower. They also stated in their written testimony that it would remove “small employers' and employees' freedom to negotiate the benefits package”. They finally expressed concerns that the state may not have the funds to administrate a law which will likely be underutilized anyway.
A Coalition of: The CT Coalition of Municipalities, 10 Chambers of Commerce, and 26 Businesses/Associations:
This Coalition submitted a form letter in opposition of H.B. 6932. The Coalition argues that similar legislation in Washington State held a price tag of about 1.2 billion dollars. Current budgetary restrictions on the CT Department of Labor (DOL) would never allow them ability to administer such a program if it were passed into law. Furthermore they cite the (CT DOL) as not legally being able to oversee this project due to federal laws. They also argue that this “one size fits all mandate” would also hinder the competitive business environment in Connecticut. The business environment of Connecticut they argue is already more hostile than other states. The form Letter represents the opinion of several organizations listed below.
Bill Ethier, Chief Executive Director, Home Builders and Remodelers Association of CT
A new mandate to allow employees up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave will create a monstrous new government program. For example, at $1,000 per week or 100% pay, whichever is greater, and with few employees opting into the system, this new government fund is unsustainable. The results would have untold adverse consequences for Connecticut's taxpayers and the forced lost work productivity would be another reason for employers to flee the state.
Reported by: Wade Packer