Family and Medical Leave Law in Connecticut

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is the FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act, or “FMLA,” is a federal labor law that was passed in 1993, which requires covered employers to provide their employees with job protection and unpaid leave. This leave is intended to be utilized for qualified medical and family circumstances, as the Act provides legal rights and employee protections associated with medical leave for employees. In general, an employee may continue unpaid leave for up to twelve weeks.

The Act also requires covered employers to maintain health benefits for all eligible workers as if they were still actively working while they were on leave. During an employee’s time of leave, the employee’s position is protected. This means that an employee legally may not be terminated while on FMLA leave.

Because the FMLA is a federal law, the Act preempts state laws, including instances in which those laws conflict with each other. This means that employees who work in states that offer little or no family and medical leave protections could still be entitled to federal protections under the FMLA. Although some states have laws providing more coverage, most states do not provide more medical leave than what is required by federal law.

However, Connecticut is one such state that does provide more coverage and benefits than the federal law under the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act “PFMLA.” The PFMLA offers Connecticut workers the opportunity to take time to attend to personal and family health needs without worrying about lost income.

It is important to note that not all employers are required to provide the benefits that are required by the FMLA. This is because federal law only states that employers are required to provide all eligible employees with leave if the employer meets one of the following criteria:

  • The employee is a state, local, or federal governmental agency;
  • The employer is a private business that conducts interstate commerce and has fifty or more employees that work twenty or more weeks in one year;
  • The employer engages in commerce or an industry that affects commerce.
    • It is important to note that nearly every business meets the requirement for being commerce or affecting commerce.

Once again, employers have some considerably specific responsibilities under the FMLA, such as not being permitted to terminate an employee who takes family or medical leave for any reason as outlined in the FMLA. Employees who are working for employers who are covered by the FMLA have a right under federal law to take leave if they qualify under the FMLA.

As such, employers cannot reprimand employees for taking approved FMLA leave, and they may not engage in family medical leave discrimination when initially granting FMLA leave. This means an employer cannot grant FMLA leave to one employee but not another when the two employees’ circumstances are essentially identical.

What Kind of Leave Are Employees Entitled to Take?

Under the FMLA, an employee who may qualify for FMLA protection is permitted to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks of work in any 12-month period. However, this leave is not required to be paid leave under the FMLA.

However, federal law does permit an employee to elect or to substitute accrued paid vacation leave or paid sick or family leave in lieu of using their unpaid FMLA leave. If an employee informs their employer that they are using paid leave for a reason that is covered by the FMLA, then that leave is also protected under the FMLA.

The Connecticut PFMLA will be discussed below.

For What Reasons Can an Employee Take FMLA Leave?

Under the FMLA, an employee may qualify for FMLA protection and take FMLA leave for the following reasons:

  • The physical birth of a child or children;
  • To bond with a newborn child;
  • When an employee becomes a foster parent;
  • When an employee adopts a child;
  • Time to bond with a newly placed foster child or newly adopted child;
  • For the employee to care for a member of their immediate family who has a serious health condition. Immediate family members include:
    • Parents;
    • Spouses;
    • Children; Immediate family members do not include:
      • In-laws;
      • Grandparents;
      • Brothers and sisters;
  • To take medical leave when the employee cannot work because of a serious health condition that renders the employee unable to perform essential functions of their employment; and
  • For a qualifying emergency that arises from an employee’s daughter, son, spouse, or parent who is on covered active duty or is called to active duty status in:
    • The Reserves;
    • Regular Armed Forces;
    • National Guard.

How Do Connecticut Laws Affect My Rights Regarding FMLA Leave?

As mentioned above, Connecticut laws expand upon the federal FMLA protections. Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act allows Connecticut employees access to income replacement benefits for life events that are covered under the federal FMLA, the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (“CT FMLA”), and the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act.

As far as employer coverage requirements, the Connecticut Paid Leave (“CTPL”) program covers all employers with one or more employees. It is also accessible to all employees who have met certain earned-wage thresholds. Further, individuals who are self-employed or are sole proprietors are also eligible to opt in to the program.

What Are the Criteria for Benefits Under Connecticut Law?

In order to be eligible for coverage under the Connecticut expansion of the FMLA and receive benefits, an individual must:

  • Have earned wages from a covered employer of at least $2,325 in the highest quarter of the first four of the five most recently completed quarters, and be either:
    • Currently employed by a covered employer;
    • Have been employed by a covered employer within the last 12 weeks; or
    • A self-employed person or a sole proprietor who is a Connecticut resident and has enrolled in the program.

Importantly, an employee’s wages may include salary or hourly pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, tips, commissions, severance pay, and the cash value of any “in-kind” payments. A Connecticut worker might be experiencing a serious health condition or other eligible leave reason and meet the criteria for benefits under Connecticut law above. In that case, they may be eligible for additional leave benefits.

If I Qualify for Coverage Under the FMLA, but Not Under Connecticut Law, Can I Still Get Connecticut’s Benefits?

In short, no. Any individual who qualifies for coverage under the FMLA but not under Connecticut law will not be able to obtain Connecticut’s additional employee and leave benefits. As such, in order to receive Connecticut’s benefits, an employee must meet the basic requirements outlined above under Connecticut law.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

You should work with a Connecticut employment lawyer to determine what leave you can take, as well as discuss the difference between federal and California laws. Additionally, you might be experiencing family and medical leave issues or may feel that you have been mistreated by your employer while on leave or after returning.

If that is the case, an experienced Connecticut employment attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options under Connecticut employment law.

An attorney can also assist you in initiating a private civil action against your former employer if you were wrongfully terminated while on FMLA leave. Finally, an attorney can also represent your interests in court, as needed.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer