Universal paid family and medical leave act proposed in Connecticut

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If newly proposed legislation passes, Connecticut workers would no longer have to worry about where their next paycheck would come from if they needed to take an extended time off for family or medical reasons.

The bill, which has passed through the legislature's labor committee, calls for two actions:

  • First, every state business would be required to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks off for family or medical reasons, without fear of losing their job. Currently, only businesses with 50 or more employees must adhere to these guidelines.
  • Second, all workers in Connecticut would contribute 1/4 of 1 percent of their weekly pay to a fund that could be accessed, up to $1,000 per week, for 12 weeks.

According to the Connecticut Working Families organization, which held a media briefing at Arciuolo's Shoe Store in Milford Friday, an employee making roughly $50,000 per year would contribute $130 into this mandatory fund.

Sara Orris, of Stratford, spoke in support of the bill today, saying her daughter has a serious, chronic condition that required Sarah to miss more than the five days per year company paid her for.

"So, we had to go a whole pay cycle without a paycheck," said Orris. "A whole month's worth of bills came around, on top of medical bills. It was a frightening time for us."

Arciuolo's Shoe Store served as today's backdrop because this nearly century-old store has always allowed it's employees voluntary medical or family leave, as needed.

"I can't imagine that anyone would be that vehemently opposed to giving someone the ability to work through a difficult time for either them or a family member," Matt Arciuolo, the store owner.

Now, if this legislation does not pass, some suggest businesses would also be hurt.

"In terms of lost productivity, when people have to give up their jobs instead of being able to take a little time off now and then, for their own health issues," said state Rep. Peter Tercyak (D-New Britain).

Tercyak remains optimistic Connecticut will become the fourth state in the nation to enact universal paid family leave, and it could happen during this legislative session, which ends June 3.