The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was an important step towards normalizing employee time off for family and medical issues. The FMLA protects you if you are sick, caring for a sick family member (parent, child, or spouse only), or have a newborn or adopted child. If you qualify for an FMLA protection, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family/medical leave per year without losing your job, your seniority, or your employer-provided health insurance. There are two basic requirements to qualify for an FMLA protection:
- Your employer must have 50 or more employees; and
- You must have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.
How Do Connecticut Laws Affect My Rights Regarding FMLA Leave?
The FMLA is a federal law, which means it applies equally to every state and trumps any conflicting state laws. However, many states have laws that provide even greater employee protections. Consequently, if you qualify under both the FMLA and your state’s family and medical leave laws, your employer must comply with the law that provides the greater benefit to you, their employee.
Criteria for Benefits Under Connecticut Law:
- Coverage: Connecticut state law applies to private employers with over 75 employees and does not apply to local government offices.
- Eligibility: Employees that have worked at least 1,000 hours during the past 12 months are eligible under Connecticut law.
- Amount: Connecticut state law allows for 16 weeks of unpaid leave per every 24 months (or up to 24 weeks for state of Connecticut employees).
- Family Members Defined: Includes the same categories as the FMLA with the addition of a "spouse's parent".
- Reinstatement: Both Connecticut law and the FMLA provide that you have a right to return to your job when the leave is over. If that job is not available, the employer must provide a similar job with equivalent pay.
If I Qualify for Coverage Under the FMLA, But Not Under Connecticut Law, Can I Still Get Connecticut's Benefits?
Most likely not. You must meet the basic requirements enumerated in Connecticut law in order to receive Connecticut’s benefits.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has fallen ill and need medical help, or you have a new child at home, you should not have to sacrifice job security to take care of them. Family and medical leave issues can be extremely complicated due to overlapping state and federal laws. Consult an experienced employment attorney who can help ensure that your rights are protected.