If there was any doubt that Democrats in the 2019 General Assembly and Gov. Ned Lamont have made passing a mandate for paid Family & Medical Leave a priority, it was removed the other day.
Here is what Lamont told the Republican-American's Paul Hughes:
“We are going to pass paid family leave,” Lamont said. “I’m going to work my heart out to make sure that gets done, and I’m going to do it in the most fiscally responsible way so taxpayers know this is something that is going to be managed in an efficient way going forward.”
Lamont also said he is "exploring" private management of the state's proposed paid FMLA program.
"If I have somebody who wants to administer this thing and take the financial risk in return for a 10-year contract, that’s the way I like to think about these things,” Lamont said.
You can read more about the privatization discussion at CTMirror.org, here.
The article also notes that "Negotiations are underway with legislative committee co-chairs and other stakeholders about the variables of such a benefit: How much weeks of wages would be offered? What percentage of wages would be replaced? Who would be eligible? What constitutes a family member?"
These are all red flags that the Waterbury Regional Chamber, CBIA and other business organizations have raised about the paid FMLA bills, Senate bills 001 and 881 (the governor's bill), and House Bill 5003. The bills currently propose paying employees 90% to 100% of their wages, up to $1,000 per week, for 12 weeks of leave. Two of the bills also broadly define "family member" as not just a blood relative but anyone who is "equivalent to a family member." (Emphasis added.) It also imposes the paid FMLA mandate on every company, regardless of size, including sole proprietors.
The CTMirror article notes that the criteria must be set in order for actuaries to determine the program's sustainability.
The bills fund the program via a mandatory 0.5% deduction from all privately employed workers. Given the current parameters of who is eligible for leave and how much they will be reimbursed, CBIA and others have determined that the fund would become insolvent almost immediately, requiring the wage deduction to increase dramatically. No one can opt out, though unionized state workers are exempt from the program.
Given all of this, it is vitally important for business owners to call or email state legislators and tell them how harmful this legislation will be to their business. See my previous blog post about FMLA for all of the local legislators' contact information.
And here are some talking points:
To have the greatest impact, focus on members of the Democratic caucus. Please be respectful, whether calling or writing, but make sure you are as specific as possible about how this program will harm your business.