The Connecticut maternity and family medical leave laws provide up to 16 weeks of unpaid legal protections for select parents, caregivers, and disabled personnel.

The paid sick leave program lasts for a maximum of one week – leaving most people without an income for the duration of their work absence.

Follow the four-part outline found below to learn your legal job and health insurance rights and find options for monetary help.

Connecticut has a paid family leave bill stalled in the Senate as of mid-2018. Until the Senate and governor sign the legislation, parents need to fend for themselves while taking time off from work.

Parents, caretakers, and sick or injured individuals need to sort through options for financial assistance. The paid sick time, temporary disability, and unemployment benefit options offer modest help – if any at all.

Financial Assistance

Most parents face an unpaid maternity or family leave of absence from work. Several private companies offer possible forms of financial assistance. Public programs aid low-income families only. Weigh your options for help with a temporary income stoppage.

Maternity Leave Loan

Request a personal loan to fund maternity leave expenses. Borrowing money during an unpaid family medical leave has pros and cons. Weigh your options carefully.

  1. Relieve the temporary monetary pressure while you bond with your newborn baby or adoptive child. The opportunity goes by in a flash.
  2. Begin repayment roughly six weeks after loan dispersal. Set aside a portion of the funding to make the first monthly payment.
  3. Verify that your employer will hold your job open. You must repay the lender with interest over time.

Making Extra Money

Making extra money during an unpaid maternity leave is the primary self-help option for many new parents. The same holds true for caregivers who must stop working because a family member is sick or hurt.

Some opportunities are stopgap measures. You can begin making or saving money online right away. However, the bigger more lucrative work-at-home ventures require long-term effort and planning.

Single Mother Help

Single mothers often have the greatest need for monetary help during maternity leave. Solo wage earners find it more difficult to build a cushion of savings while they are able to work.

Many government assistance programs are needs based. Marital status is not one of the qualifiers. However, income level is. Solo parents supporting themselves alone can easily fall into poverty, making them eligible based on their lower earnings.

Connecticut General Statute 31-57r requires employers with more the 50 jobholders to provide paid sick leave benefits. The law exempts certain classes of private companies.1

  • Non-profit organizations under chapter 501 C-3
  • Manufacturers in NAIC sectors 31 – 33

Covered service workers accrue 1 hour per every 40 hours worked and can accumulate and use up to 40 hours each year. Qualified personnel can use the accumulated time for an employee, child, or spouse.

  • Illness, injury, or health condition
  • Medical diagnosis, care, or treatment
  • Preventative medical care

40 hours of paid sick time covers only 1 week. New parents still must find a way to fund the remaining 5 to 7 weeks for the average job absence.

Unemployment Compensation

Collecting unemployment is a poor substitute for paid maternity leave. Connecticut law does allow a subset of parents to file a claim after a long delay. You must meet four basic parameters first.

  1. Quit or fired from a job during your absence
  2. Physically able to perform the duties of your occupation
  3. Available to return the workforce
  4. Actively seeking new employment

Filing an unemployment claim does no good for mothers while recovering from childbirth. She is physically unable to work. Likewise, parents caring for a newborn or sick infant are unavailable for duty.

Section 31-236 of the Connecticut Unemployment Compensation Code declares that “no individual shall be ineligible for benefits if the individual leaves suitable work to care for the individual’s spouse, child, or parent with an illness or disability.”2

This means that some parents are eligible to file a claim once caretaking duties cease.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability insurance provides paid maternity leave benefits to proactive parents. Connecticut does not have a mandatory program. You must purchase the policy prior to your conception, illness, or injury as the private policies contain a twelve-month exclusion for pre-existing conditions.

Employers can offer a voluntary option that the workers pay themselves through payroll deduction. Direct coverage policies do not cover normal childbirth.

Pregnancy Discrimination and Accommodation

Connecticut General Statute 46a-60 details the Pregnancy Discrimination and Accommodation law. This regulation applies to organizations with more than 3 employees. It protects the legal rights of expectant women as job applicants and holders during pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation.3

Financial assistance programs targeting expectant women can help with expense and income issues.

Reasonable Leave

Covered organizations must provide reasonable pregnancy disability leave of absence to female jobholders. Prohibited acts include the following.

  • Terminating employment because of pregnancy or childbirth
  • Denying reasonable time off due to infirmity
  • Denying accrued benefits under plans maintained by the employer
  • Failing to reinstate to an equivalent job or position
  • Limiting, segregating, or classifying the person

Reasonable Accommodation

Covered organizations must also make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women while working. These accommodations include the following.

  • Permission to sit while working
  • More frequent or longer breaks
  • Assistance with manual labor
  • Light duty assignments
  • Modified work schedules
  • Appropriate facilities to express milk

Family Medical Leave Acts State and Federal

Connecticut has both a State and Federal Family Medical Leave Act that provide unpaid legal job protections. The two laws are very similar. However, minor nuances in each regulation create four sub-groups, each with a unique set of legal rights.

  1. Not covered under either law
    1. Part-timers
    2. Small business
    3. Newly hired
  2. Eligible for federal only
  3. Qualify for the state only
  4. Covered under both

FMLA Maternity Leave

Both FMLA programs will cover maternity leave if the mother and/or father meet the eligibility criteria outlined below. The entitlement rules work in a similar fashion.

  • Birth or adoption of their child
  • A person’s own serious health condition
    • Pregnancy complications before birth
    • Recovery from labor and delivery
    • Postpartum medical complications
  • Care of family member with a serious health condition
    • Dads caring for mom with complications
    • Moms and/or dads caring for a sick infant

Federal FMLA

The Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is unpaid and lasts up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period for any covered person. The federal FMLA covers a unique set of people compared to its Connecticut counterpart.

These groups qualify for 12 weeks under the federal rule only

  • Private employers with fewer than 75 total employees but more than 50 within a 75-mile radius
  • State and municipal government staff members
  • Teachers in most private and public school systems

State FMLA

The Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act extends the length of unpaid legal job protections to 16 weeks in a 24-month period. This primarily applies to individuals working in private industry for larger employers – those with more than 75 total employees.

A small group of part-time personnel will qualify under the state law only. The cutoff is 1,000 hours worked in the last 12 months compared to 1,250 hours for its federal counterpart.4

Applying the Connecticut Parental Leave Laws

Applying to Connecticut parental leave laws to specific example groups can help our readers determine their rights. The outcomes can vary widely based on gender, place where you work, and the length of time with your organization.

Fathers on Paternity Leave

Connecticut fathers on paternity leave can enjoy up to 16 weeks of unpaid time away from the job. Men face even greater limitations when seeking income replacement during this time off.

  • Both FMLA programs support fathers taking time to bond with a newborn or adopted baby
  • Dads may need time off to care for his sick wife or infant
  • Short-term disability does not cover family members or caretakers – fathers are not eligible
  • Unemployment compensation is available to dads who must quit work for a good cause reason – after he is available for duty and actively seeking a new job

Out-of-State Commuters

Residents frequently commute out-of-state to work. Parental leave laws pertain to the state where a person works, rather than where he or she lives. Since Connecticut borders three large metropolitan area this issue crops up frequently.

The benefits will vary widely.

  • Massachusetts
    • Job protections for small business
    • No income benefits
  • New York
    • Temporary disability at $170 weekly
    • Caretaker pay for 8 – 12 weeks
  • Rhode Island
    • Temporary disability up to 60% of income
    • Extended job protections for pregnancy absences
    • Caretaker insurance program

Footnoted Sources:

  1. Paid Sick Leave
  2. General Statute 31-57
  3. General Statutes §§ 46a-60
  4. State FMLA
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