This is not like the Federal FMLA that has been around for decades. This is a new state program. If you (for profit or nonprofit) have one employee or more (if you give a W2 form to one or more people at the end of the year-whether you are an owner or not) THIS APPLIES TO YOU! (It does not apply to federal, state, municipal employees)
We hosted a webinar with the CEO of CT Paid Leave on Feb 5. Here are some important takeaways:
1. This program started Jan 1, 2021.
2. You should have started deducting 0.5% of your employees earnings from their pay.
3. If you have not done so you must begin immediately OR YOU WILL PAY THIS AMOUNT OUT OF YOUR OWN MONEY!
4. You can collect retroactively (in case you did not start) up until the second quarter April 1, 2021.
5. If you are collecting retroactively you can collect up to 1% of your employees pay until you have caught up.
6. Register your business (use firefox or google chrome-internet explorer does not work).
7. Create your account at business.ct.gov. You will get an acknowledgment email-make sure you click “acknowledge”.
8. You will need your federal employer ID numer FEIN and your NAICS number.
9. Once registered go to ctpaidleave.org to get started.
10. You will need to identify a person at your company that will be handling any CTPFMLA requests and make decisions.
11. If you are using a payroll company they do not need your credentials, they are a 3rd party administrator and need only your FEIN.
If an employee applies for leave you need to ask yourself these 2 questions:
1. Are they eligible for job protected leave?
2. Are they eligible for income replacement?
As the employer they must still go to you and request time off from work, then they go to the Paid Leave Authority to apply for benefits.
You should be displaying information on this program at your workplace like all the other employee rights. You SHOULD send a copy of the employee rights and information about the program to your employees working virtual to make sure you have notices all of them properly.
The Paid Leave Authority is very aware that there is some abuse of the current FMLA programs and are undertaking legal strategies to identify these abuses and counter them. They are also working on making this process streamlined by combining forms with the federal program.
As an employer you have the right to request medical documentation in writing. You can require that they take a medical examination and it can be with a doctor of your choosing that is not the employee’s doctor. You can also ask for a second or third medical opinion from a doctor that is not the employee’s.
Employers also have the right to opt out of the state program and choose a private plan. The advantage here is that you will have more control over your company’s “benefit program coordination” and can streamline the process for your employees. This would be a consideration for a larger company with a benefits administrator. The disadvantage is that it can be more expensive than the state program.
LLC’S WHERE YOU ARE AN “EMPLOYEE”
Whether your company is a sole proprietor or it was created as a LLC where you are an employee, if you are the only person working for the company, you are considered a sole proprietor. This means you can chose to opt in or not. You will NOT be considered the same as a company with one employee where you are automatically required to participate. Sole proprietors can opt into the program but they cannot begin to collect benefits for three years.
The last concern about giving leave to care for someone “like a family member” was addressed. This gives many small business owners heart palpitations. The Authority has not finalized this yet but did say that there would be some sort of “proof” or validation required to say you are “like an uncle” and are awaiting guidance from the Department of Labor who is cautious of employees rights to privacy.
Special categories of leave will include 12 days for victims of domestic violence and 26 weeks for Military Caregiver leave and Military Exigency Leave.
In case you are confused about federal v. state FMLA, think of it this way… the current CT FMLA is not paid and only applies to companies with 75 or more employees. This will go away and will be replaced with the new paid program that begins in January of 2022 and applies to companies with only 1 or more employees.
Job protected leave includes…
1. Federal FMLA (unpaid) for companies over 50 employees
2. CT FMLA (unpaid for this year, paid next year) for companies over 75 employees this year, over 1 employee next year
3. Workers Compensation (cannot collect this and FMLA at the same time) claims
4. Americans with Disabilities (ADA) claims
5. Pregnancy related claims
6. CT Fair EMployment Act claims
One more layer of information…. if you or your company has a short or long term disability plan, you should contact them and discuss how they integrate with the new state PFMLA. Some plans will not pay out to customers as long as they are also collecting paid benefits from FMLA or any other source. You should determine when they will pick up the claim (how many weeks after the start of the claim) if paid FMLA begins immediately. For example, if your short term disability normally covers you from day 1 to 12 weeks, and your CT paid FMLA covers you from day 1 to 12 weeks, you will not be able in most cases to collect from both sources. You want to make sure your short term disability will start coverage from 12 weeks forward when the CT paid leave stops. This of course only covers claims where you are sick or injured but it is important to work out with your carriers or agents.
We will continue to keep you updated as things progress. You can find the video of our webinar on our You Tube Channel.