Family and Medical Leave in Connecticut Lawyers
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What Is the FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was an important step in requiring employers to grant time off to employees with family and medical issues. Whether you are sick yourself, caring for a sick family member (parent, child, or spouse only), or have a newborn or adopted child, the FMLA will ensure that you retain your job while taking leave to deal with your medical- or family-related issues. To qualify for FMLA protection, you must meet these requirements:
- The employer must have 50 or more employees.
- The employee must have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.
If those two requirements are met, then the employer must grant 12 weeks of unpaid family/medical leave per year to its employees. Family/medical leave is defined as needed time off to care for your own medical condition, or those of a family member, or having a newborn (or adopted) child come into your household.
How Do Connecticut Laws Affect My Rights Regarding FMLA Leave?
It is important to note that the FMLA is a federal law, which means it applies equally to every state and trumps any conflicting state laws. The protections granted above are available to you regardless of what your state law says. Although many states have laws that offer less protection and benefits to employees, employers covered by the FMLA must comply with the federal or state provision that provides the greater benefit to their employees. You have no obligation to designate whether the leave you take is FMLA leave or leave under state law.
Essentially, this means that the FMLA provides your basic leave benefits, so long as you qualify for the FMLA and your employer is governed by the FMLA, and Connecticut law can only add to your benefits.
Added Benefits of Connecticut Law:
- Coverage: In the private sector, Connecticut state law only applies to companies with over 75 employees, as opposed to the FMLA's 50 employees requirement. The employee count is determined annually, every October 1st. Notably, all local government offices are exempt from these provisions. Obviously, this is not a benefit, but to qualify for the other Connecticut benefits, your company must meet this requirement.
- Eligibility: One must have worked 1,000 hours over the course of a year to become eligible for state protection, which is lower than FMLA's required 1,250 hours.
- Amount: Connecticut state law allows for 16 weeks of unpaid leave per every 24 months. This poses an interesting question of whether you could take 16 weeks off in the first year, under Connecticut law, and then during the second year, attempt to take the 12 weeks off that is guaranteed per year by federal law. Complicated legal questions like this are why you should definitely talk to a local employment attorney about your rights if you need to maximize your medical leave to take care of yourself or a loved one.
- Organ Donor Leave: Connecticut law also offers this rather unusual exception to all state employees: 24 weeks off any 2 year period for the purposes of organ or bone marrow donation. This is not mandatory for private sector employers.
- Family Members Defined: Same as the FMLA, except for the addition of "spouse's parent," which is usually not one of the protected classes under the FMLA.
- Reinstatement: One of the major departures from the FMLA is Connecticut's reinstatement provision. While the FMLA does NOT protect your previous job if the disability you suffered has rendered you unable to perform the duties of the job, Connecticut orders employers to at least attempt to offer a new job to the employee that is within the employees capabilities if such a job is available.
If I Qualify for Coverage Under the FMLA, But Not Under Connecticut Law, Can I Still Get Connecticut's Benefits?
Probably not. Even though the states must chose the provision that is most beneficial to the employee, it is usually an all-or-nothing package, meaning that you cannot take Connecticut's law apart and choose which provisions you like.
An example of this would be where you work for an employer that has 55 employees. Since you meet the minimum of 50 employees required under the FMLA, you would receive all of its protections. And since you do NOT meet Connecticut's 75 employee minimum, you would not qualify for its other benefits, such as requiring only 1,000 hours of work in the previous year.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has fallen ill and are in need of medical help, or you have a new child at home, you should not have to sacrifice job security in order to take care of them. This field is particularly difficult to navigate because it is full of over-lapping statutes, so a good lawyer will be essential for you to maximize your rights and protect your job. A Connecticut employment attorney will be familiar with both Connecticut and federal employment law, so they can help you get the most benefit from your employer, and assist you in avoiding any otherwise inevitable problems with employer's health insurance and coverage.
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Last Modified: 06-17-2014 10:41 AM PDT
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