Connecticut's Paid Family Leave Policy Is About To Set A New Standard For The US

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One New England state is on track to make it more financially viable for its workers to grow their families and care for their sick. On Friday, Connecticut passed a paid family leave bill that, per HuffPost, is slated to be the most generous policy in the country so far. The governor is expected to sign off on the bill soon.

“Susan and I ran on paid family and medical leave,” Gov. Ned Lamont said of he and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, per The Connecticut Mirror. “We know how important it is to the workplace of the 21st Century to a lot of single parents who desperately need that in order not to choose between a job and a child who is sick.”

The program is scheduled to go into effect in July 2021, per the Mirror. The paper reports that the policy provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave to new parents, or else to caregivers who need to care for a family member.

It will cover up to $900 a week, which HuffPost reports is higher than similar policies passed in other states. The Mirror reports that this will include up to 95% of pay coverage for those working minimum wage. The exact amount covered for each person will reportedly vary based on a sliding scale.

The policy will be paid for through a 0.5% payroll tax, HuffPost reports, meaning that the state's workers will fund the program themselves. If the policy proves financially unsustainable, benefits will be cut, per the Mirror.

“We all agreed on the need to pass this landmark support for working families so they don’t have to choose between the job they need and the family they love, or their own health,” Lamont said on Friday, per HuffPost.

With Lamont's signature, Connecticut will join other nearby states with similar policies. Proponents of the policy used that fact to bolster support for their plan.

"This gives people economic security and job protection at a time in their life when they need it the most,” Lindsay Farrell, executive director of Connecticut Working Families, told The Public's Radio. "Our neighboring states are already implementing these kinds of programs and the sky has not fallen. We believe that this makes smaller employers more competitive with larger employers. Larger employers have the resources to provide this kind of financial benefit already. Smaller employers struggle with it a little bit more."

Notably, the Connecticut bill provides paid leave options for more than just new parents. The caregiver leave option, which a worker may take to care for a sick family member, includes provisions for any unwell relatives, including, per The Hill, someone who is the “equivalent of a family member.”

Paid family leave policy proposals have received increased attention at both the local and national level in recent years. The notion has become increasingly bipartisan, although Democrats and Republicans don't always agree about how to pay for such proposals. As the 2020 presidential election heats up, it's likely that the concept will take up some significant space on the campaign trail.