New Connecticut FMLA Presents Unique Problem for Employers at Year-End
November 5, 2021
Connecticut’s newly amended Family and Medical Leave Act (the “CTFMLA” or the “Act”) takes effect on January 1, 2022. The big change is the leave will only provide 12 weeks off in a 12-month period rather than 16 weeks in a 24-month period.
While the change seems clear, there is one big question. What happens when the leave starts in 2021, but carries over into 2022? Fortunately, the Connecticut Department of Labor (the “CT-DOL”) just issued guidance on this very issue (the “Guidance”) (click here to read the Guidance).
The Guidance states that if an employee starts a leave prior to January 1, 2022, “the duration of CTFMLA leave would be capped at 12 weeks in the applicable 12-month period as of January 1, 2022….” This would be true even if the employee was “approved for, and commenced, 16 weeks of CTFMLA leave in 2021.”
Based on this Guidance, if an approved leave starts in 2021 and runs into 2022, an employer must perform the following analysis to determine if the employee has any continued benefits eligibility;
- look at the employee’s leave status as of January 1, 2022, under the new law; and
- evaluate the employee’s status based on the measuring period the company has elected to use (i.e., calendar year, fiscal year, or rolling look-back).
In the above example, if an employer uses a 12-month look-back period, an employee beginning a continuous leave in the fall of 2021 who uses 12 weeks of CTFMLA leave prior to January 1, will have no CTFMLA remaining as of January 1.
The foregoing is one simple example of how the amended Act works. The more challenging question involves leaves that started and stopped in 2021, and then begin again in 2022. If you use the two step approach listed above, you should get the correct answer. But note, the Guidance does not carry the same authority as law. Rather it is intended as guidance for employers to follow in absence of the final regulations being published, and the Guidance is not binding on the courts.
Also remember, in some situations under the Act, employees are entitled to up to two additional weeks of leave if they experience a serious health condition related to pregnancy or otherwise.
What Should Employer’s Be Doing Now to Prepare?
- Review of the CTFMLA, as amended.
- Review existing company leave policies.
- Make any necessary adjustments to internal policies to comply with impending changes to CTFMLA.
- Review and train appropriate staff members on how company provided leave benefits will interact with the amended CTFMLA.
As one can imagine, unless you are a large employer, very few of your employees will fall into this category of carry over CTFMLA between 2021 and 2022. But if this issue arises, be sure you check for final Guidance and use competent legal counsel if you are unsure how to proceed.
Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.454.0560.