Labor and Public Employees Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING EARNED FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Labor and Public Employees Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
There are many workers that do not have paid family and medical leave which affects the financial and economic stability of individuals and families.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Catherine Bailey, Deputy Director, CT Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
CWEALF leads the CT Campaign for Paid Family Leave with a Steering Committee of five other organizations: AARP-CT, AFSCME, Commission on Equity and Opportunity, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and Working Families. Currently, approximately 40% of the workforce does not have access to FMLA since federal and state laws apply solely to larger companies with 50 or more employees. In other words, 40% of the current workers can lose their job if they become seriously ill, need to take care of an ill family member or decide to grow their family. Many larger businesses have expanded their parental leave policies: Google, Hilton, Etsy, and Microsoft are just a few among others. CT Campaign for Paid FMLA recommends the following “Triple A” system of paid family and medical leave: 1.) Affordable- a system publicly administered by the Department of Labor to ensure transparency, keep cost low for the public, and remove profit incentives; 2.) Accessible- for all CT workers and expand the definition to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, children over the age of 18 and chosen family members to accommodate the realistic needs of today's households and allow employees to care for their love ones; and 3.) Adequate – and provides enough time for family care or healing – a minimum of 12 weeks of leave. This mirrors the federal FMLA and simplifies guidelines for employers. Three other states with paid leave offer shorter leaves for family care (4-6 weeks), but have much longer leave for individual illness (26-52 weeks).
Liz Andrews, CT Coalition of Against Domestic Violence (CCADV)
CCADV is a member of the CT Campaign for Paid Family Leave, a group of diverse advocates who represent the needs of working families. Connecticut does have explicit leave for victims of family violence (CGS 31-51sss). Under this statute victims can take paid leave if it is offered by their employer and they have time accrued; if employers do not offer paid leave, they are required to allow victims 12 days of unpaid leave. This time, however may not be sufficient for an employee to address his or her own serious health condition resulting from domestic violence or to care for a qualifying member with a serious health condition that resulted from domestic violence. Based on an AARP poll, 83% support paid leave and 75% in a CT Working Families poll also support it.
Gerald Calnen, M.D., FAAP
As a practicing pediatrician for over 30 years in my community, I have witnessed families that have had to leave a young infant in the care of someone else in order for the parents to return to work. As a physician, I strongly believe that mothers and infants need to be together during the first several months of life. The nurturing care provided by the mother enable the infant to develop the faculty for emotional self-regulation, which is the basis for healthy development.
Gretchen Raffa, MSW, Director, Public Policy, Advocacy & Strategic Engagement –Planned Parent of Southern New England, Inc.
We support the bill and want to suggest the definition of family throughout the bill where family members are defined to a more inclusive definition. The need for inclusive definitions is generated by the fact that kinship networks outside of the nuclear family have always been part of the U.S. social fabric. An inclusive definition of family in workplace leave policies would benefit many different types of families, and is particularly important for LGBTQ families.
Lori Pelletier, President, Connecticut AFL-CIO
The Connecticut AFL-CIO support the bill which will establish a program by that workers would earn time they could take when the need to deal with a serious personal or family illness or to care for a new child. The United States has until now failed to recognize that providing paid leave is a matter of economic competitiveness. According to a survey conducted by the International Labor Organizations, the U.S. is the only developed country to offer no paid maternity leave. Paid family leave programs are already working in California, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Mike Klein and Stacy Stableford, Volunteers AARP-Connecticut
In 2003, Mr. Klein's wife was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. He was fortunate to have the benefit of a generous amount of sick leave from his employer-Sikorksy Aircraft. He stated that nearly seven in ten caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving. In Connecticut, 459,000 family caregivers provide and estimated $5.93 billion worth of unpaid care annually. 74% of family caregivers have worked at a paying job at some point during their caregiving experience and 61% are currently employed.
Ms. Stableford testified regarding her experience as a caregiver to her father. She did not qualify for FMLA because she had begun teaching in a new district and had worked less than a year when her dad took ill. The district did allow her to use all of her sick days and two personal days before unpaid leave began. However, 17 days was not sufficient, since her dad lingered for 6 months before succumbing. She stated how she effected emotionally and financially.
Bob Rodman, Volunteer, AARP-Connecticut
Mr. Rodman shared personal experience regarding the positive aspects of the Rhode Island Family Leave Act had on his family. His daughter, who lives in Rhode Island, was able to utilize the paid family leave when she gave birth to her son. He further commented that is was the forward looking legislative body that planned ahead and realized that their Medical Leave laws improve business climate by keeping their various workforces dedicated.
Lindsay Farrell, Connecticut State Director, Working Families Organization
We have to address the need for paid leave in any serious, comprehensive agenda to close the pay gap. Women lose 4% of their earning potential with every child that they have because they are fired from their jobs, punished for taking time off, or unable to advance because they leave the workforce and need to start over. Connecticut will lose even more workers and families to our neighboring states who provide the paid family and medical leave.
Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Student at Yale Law School
Ms. Eichner is having her first child and shared her experience that Yale Law School had been accommodating and will help her graduate on time while getting ready to mostly stay at home with her new baby for 4.5 months. Also the law firm where she will be employed this summer is allowing her to shorten her stay so she won't be commuting in the last few weeks of her pregnancy. She will get 20 weeks of paid leave-two weeks before the birth and 18 after if she decides to return to work after she graduates and wants to have another child in a few years.
Eliana Ocana and Ronald Hernandez Members, Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU
Ms. Ocana has worked at a laundry company for the last 13 years, making $10.60 per hour. She states that this is not sufficient for her to live on or support her family. Her rent alone is $750 a month and she is a single parent. If one of her family members were to get sick, she would not be able to tend to them. I cannot afford to stop working and this is why she supports the bill. Mr. Ronald Hernandez also has worked for a laundry company for 13 years. The work is very taxing on his body and he does not make enough to be able to support himself. He reports that many of his coworkers have had to work through operations and injuries because they cannot afford to take FMLA
Peg Oliveria, PhD, Executive Director, Gesell Institute of Child Development
Paid family and medical leave system is good for kids—it can reduce infant mortality by as much as 10%, according to a 2011 study of 141 countries with paid leave policies. In one study finding children were 25.3% and 22.2% more likely to get their measles and polio vaccines, respectively, when their mother had access to paid maternity leave. Without paid leave, there was no increase in immunizations. Research also found that women benefit economically by paid family and medical leave because they tend to return back to work and stay with the same employer, which means there wages grow at a faster rate afterward. It also saves when it comes to turnover and training cost for businesses.
Judith Meyers, PhD, President and CEO, Children's Fund of Connecticut
There are lasting positive health and mental health outcomes associated with smart policy. Paid family and medical leave promotes the bond between parents and their newborns which also supports healthy brain development. An infant's secure attachment is the primary source of a child's security, self-esteem, self-control and development of social skills.
Win Heimer, Executive Vice President, CT Alliance for Retired Citizens
As senior citizens, we support the bill since it will allow family members to care for elderly parents and grandparents in their time of need. Allowing mother to care for their newborns, spouses to care for each other, and grown children to care for ailing parents or grandparents—it all helps to keep families together and our communities strong.
John Hochadel, President, AFT Connecticut
The proposed plan would assess a small employee deduction of 0.5% of weekly earnings. The money collected would then be available to workers who needed paid medical or family leave, up to $1000 per week.
Claire Matthews, Essex, CT
She is 74 years old retired for 10 years. She wants to see the bill in place for her children and grandchildren all of the citizens in the state. She wished that paid FMLA had been in place when she was working.
Symone Maguire, Hamden, CT
Ms. Maguire stated that she was shocked when she found out in her early months of her first pregnancy that she did not have a single day of paid time off for maternity leave. She was forced to use all of combined sick time and PTO to care for her newborn in the first few weeks and was able to scrap together 30 days of time.
Catherine Bradshaw, Principal Consultant, Cadence Consulting, Inc.
When I gave birth to my son, I was living in Toronto Canada, where I benefitted from having a year a paid family leave. That meant I received a check each month from the Canadian government that amounted to a portion of my regular salary (I believe it was around 50%). My son was colic baby and I also experienced painful difficulties with breastfeeding. It was a rough 6 months and I don't know how I would have managed if I had to return to work.
Camila Bortoletto, CT Students for A Dream
Young workers, the millennials are among the biggest beneficiaries of paid family and medical leave. We will have to juggle our careers, having children and growing our families, and taking care of relatives. Immigrant communities especially understand the responsibilities of caring for extended families, since the younger members of the family have to take care of the older relative when they fall ill. Also, these policies impact low-income young women the most as they represent a large section of our organization's membership.
Merrill Gay, Executive Director, The CT Early Childhood Alliance
Our organization is focused on the impact on young children and from that prospective, paid family leave is clearly a positive. In half the states in the country, it is illegal to remove a puppy from its mother until it is at least 7 weeks old and yet one out of every four working women in America returns to work within two weeks after giving birth. So why would we anyone think that having mothers leave their babies and go back to work soon after giving birth be good for babies and families?
Daniela Giordano, Public Policy Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connecticut
NAMI CT is the state affiliate of NAMI, the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for all those affected by mental health conditions. Family and medical leave is not working for too many employed people. Only 12% of private and 17% of public sector workers have access to paid leave through their employer. California has had paid leave for over 10 years and CA employers overwhelmingly report positive or neutral impact of paid leave on their businesses.
Susan Eastwood, Board Member, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in Connecticut
When my husband and I had our son, we were both able to take 6 weeks of maternity/paternity leave, sequentially, in order to bond with our son and being to learn our new roles as parents. This was very important since I had an emergency C-section which saved our son's life and I needed recovery time. We appreciated being able to take time off without fear of losing our job due to the FMLA; however, we did have to take unpaid leave which was a hardship but well worthwhile.
Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director, CT Common Cause
Common Cause CT is a nonpartisan citizens' lobby that has worked to improve the way Connecticut's government operates since 1971. We have nearly three quarters of a million members nationwide and 7,500 members in Connecticut. A critical way to support and encourage individuals and families to stay in CT and raise families is to make sure that people do not have to work when they are ill, have maternity and paternity leave, and are able to care for ill family members and have the capacity to support their families as they are supporting the economy.
Tom Swan, Executive Director, CT Citizen Action Group (CCAG)
It is unconscionable to us that anyone would oppose creating a system to help families during times of need. As an employer who offers leave to our employees I understand how important it can be for our workers, their families and our organization in terms of building the type of team we need to be successful.
Stacey Zimmerman, SEIU CT State Council
In a time when we are seeing an out migration of young people, increasing the ability for young families to have the time they need to address life's challenges, Connecticut can start to reverse this trend.
Kaitlyn Fydenkevez, Esq., Director of Policy and Public Relations, CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence (formerly CONNSACS)
The Alliance is a statewide coalition of nine community-based sexual assault crisis programs. We work to end sexual violence and ensure high quality, comprehensive and culturally competent sexual assault victim services. Victims face many barriers when seeking services, including having to balance employment and personal obligations while making time to seek counselling or support. Having access to a system of paid family and medical leave would allow victims and family member to take what they need away from to heal from trauma they or their loved on have endured without having to worry about their job at the same time.
Rory Gale, Small Business Owner (Hartford Prints)
My sisters and I own Hartford Prints – a local urban goods store right here in Hartford. I consider myself a valuable link in our community. The health and well-being of my employees are very important to me as they are my neighbors and friends as well. I would be ecstatic to be able to provide this benefit to my employees and this policy would allow me to do so without any real cost to me and my business.
Sarah Croucher, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut
Although many workers are guaranteed unpaid leave, this relies on families having at least some form of savings to allow them to cover expenses while taking this leave. Data from the Federal Reserve Board showed that in 2015, 46% of adults in the U.S. said that they either could not cover any emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money. Paid is leave is vital for working families. Connecticut residents cannot afford for us to wait.
Melendez, President, CT Association for Infant Mental Health:
In the first few weeks, infants rely completely on their caregivers for basic psychological survival, critical development or regulatory functions and in general they rely wholly on their caregiver to experience the world. Public policies that respond to the unique needs of young children and families in these first critical weeks and months by moving forward with paid family and medical leave.
The following individuals submitted testimony is SUPPORT of the bill:
Executive Board of Yale Law Women
Christy D'Aquila, RN
Michele Mudrick, CT Conference, United Church of Christ
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
National Federation Of Independence Business (NFIB)
NFIB/Connecticut is very concerned that components of these proposals would look similar to legislation from last session, vastly expanding eligibility for Connecticut's existing Family and Medical Leave provisions, which are already more generous than that of federal or other state's law. These proposals could potentially necessitate the addition of hundreds of new state employees, resulting in significant capital expenditures, and cost taxpayers at least tens of millions of dollars annually. In addition the concepts in these proposals embody a mandatory payroll tax on all employees in the state, including small business owners.
Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce
We are dynamic business organization with over 2,125 members that employ over 50,000 people in and around our service area. Our chamber represents businesses from all industry sectors and of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies, to micro businesses. Implementing a paid family and medical leave system in the state would raise costs for the business community and will hamper hiring efforts in a number of key industry sectors in our state at a very critical time for Connecticut's economy.
Wendy Traub, Hemlock Directional Boring, Inc. and Member of NFIB CT Leadership Council
My husband and I own a small, specialized construction company in Northwest Connecticut. Our company predominately hires construction laborers. We do not support any legislation that creates a state-run Paid Family Medical Leave Plan. Past proposed bills unfairly mandated employee participation (unless they contained an opt out) and while they start with an employee-only pay deduction, history lends itself to believe that if the fund cannot sustain itself, employer matches will become a reality.
Eric Gjede, Counsel, Connecticut Business and Industry (CBIA)
CBIA is opposed to the type of inflexible state mandate proposed in HB 6212 and prior iterations of this bill. A one-size-fits-all paid leave mandate is not practical in the modern workplace. Fewer and fewer employees work traditional workweeks. Many businesses are already offering flexible work hours or options like telecommuting. These developments are happening organically not by government flat. According to a 2016 CBIA survey, 54% of our membership has added additional flexibility to their leave policies in the last five years to accommodate employees. CBIA is also opposed to this bill because of the massive costs such proposals have - particularly on Connecticut's smallest businesses.
Betsy Gara, Executive Director, Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST)
Connecticut's small towns are facing dramatic budget upheavals this year as the state attempts to address a staggering budget deficit. The governor's proposed budget would devastate local budgets, virtually guaranteeing steep increase in property taxes. Given the fiscal challenges facing the state and municipalities, COST is taking a hard line in opposition to any new or expanded unfunded mandate which would impose additional costs on our towns and cities.
Connecticut School Transportation Association
We have a great concern about the impact of this bill on school bus operators around the stated. School bus drivers are a very different type of employee, because of the nature of their job. School bus drivers are essentially part time workers in a seasonal job—working two and half hours in the morning and picking up students in the afternoon. They also have to obtain a CDL license with special school bus endorsement in order to drive a bus. If a drive is absent, only another properly licensed driver can take their place. CSTA does not believe school bus drivers should be included in any paid family and medical leave law. Their schedules allow them ample time off both during the day, school vacations, and summer months.
Patrick McGloin, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy, MetroHartford Alliance
Policies enacted by the legislature factor significantly in the decision making of Connecticut's private sector employers, the very businesses and organizations that generate jobs and taxes that fund critical state services and infrastructure investments. Policymaker need to send a pro-growth message to businesses considering investing in or relocating to our state. Making our state less competitive by adding and expanding wage and benefit mandates is the last thing we should consider.
Wayne Pesce, President, Connecticut Food Association
CFA proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. Our reasons for opposition to the bill are that it: Will necessitate the hiring of potentially hundreds of new employees; requires small businesses to continue to provide expensive non-wage benefits to an employee that is absent up to 3 months every year; is an unnecessary one-size-fits-all program. In a recent survey, 54% of CT businesses had added more flexible to their leave policies. The bill has an unknown cost, although an identical program in Washington State was abandoned after it was projected to cost $235 million per biennium.
Reported by: Virginia Monteiro
Date: March 20, 2017