Conservative Caucus proposes paid family leave alternative

April 9, 2019

The Conservative Caucus of the Connecticut General Assembly is proposing an alternate model to the paid family and medical leave proposals working their way through the legislature, one it says will provide coverage “without burdening individual taxpayers with a mandatory and onerous new payroll tax.”

The current bills would implement a 0.5 percent payroll tax to fund a system in which employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave under specific circumstances. The legislative bill would allow for 100 percent wage replacement up to 132,900, meaning the maximum someone would contribute annually is 1,000 per week for 12 weeks of leave.

The figure of 0.5 percent was reached by projecting leave-taking behavior from the 2012 FMLA Survey onto Connecticut employee data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Using this model, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and two university economists last year estimated that 68,000 workers would claim benefits per year, for an average time of 7.2 weeks and with an average benefit about $700.

Contrary to how some frame the issue, it’s not like every worker could simply take 12 weeks every year; the Department of Labor must certify eligibility. But France thinks the “practical reality is: People will find ways — if they want to — to meet the requirements.”

Advocates for a state-mandated plan argue that most people will at some point be impacted by an event — whether a pregnancy or the illness of a family member — that would necessitate taking leave. For those who don’t, proponents liken their situation to people who pay car insurance their whole lives but never get in an accident.

France feels this is a “flawed analogy” because working people are not required to own a vehicle, and “having a driver’s license is a privilege; it’s not a right.”