CONNECTICUT FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (CFMLA)
In an earlier post discussing the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), I mentioned that Connecticut is one of a minority of states with a “baby” FMLA, aptly named the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA). The CFMLA is identical or very similar to the FMLA in many respects, including its overall purpose to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families, but there are important differences between the two, some of which I discuss below.
What does the CFMLA do?
The CFMLA provides eligible employees with 16 workweeks of job-protected unpaid leave in a 24-month period (as opposed to the 12 weeks in 12 months under the FMLA). Unlike the FMLA, employers covered by the CFMLA are not required to provide employees with the same health insurance benefit during the leave. The CFMLA requires that employees be given their same positions back upon returning to work, unless those positions are unavailable, in which case they can be placed in equivalent positions. This initial same-position-unless-unavailable requirement is not a feature of the FMLA, which simply requires that employees be returned to either the same or an equivalent position.
What employers does the CFMLA apply to?
The CFMLA covers employers with 75 or more employees (compared to 50 or more under the FMLA). Under the CFMLA, the state, municipalities, and boards of education are excluded from coverage. Notably, however, those employers are covered under the FMLA and, therefore, must comply with the federal law.
What employees are eligible for CFMLA leave?
Employees who have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and worked 1,000 or more hours in the previous 12 months are eligible for CFMLA leave.
When can eligible employees take CFMLA leave?
Under the following circumstances: (1) upon birth of a child; (2) upon placement of a child for adoption or foster care; (3) to care for a spouse, child, parent or parent-in-law (the FMLA does not include parent-in-law) with a serious health condition (defined identically in both laws; see FMLA post linked above); (4) because of a serious health condition of the employee; or (5) to serve as an organ or bone marrow donor. Like the FMLA, the CFMLA allows employees to elect, or employers to require, that accrued paid vacation, sick or family leave be used during an otherwise unpaid CFMLA leave.
Does CFMLA leave have to be taken all at once?
No. Like the FMLA, employees can take CFMLA leave in one block of time, intermittently (i.e., in separate blocks of time) or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary. The same FMLA obligation that employees work with the employer to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt unduly the employer’s operation applies under the CFMLA.
Is there a limit on how many times an employee may take leave?
No. The only limitation is that employees may only take 16 weeks of unpaid leave in a 24-month period. Interestingly, employers covered by both the FMLA and the CFMLA may be required to grant an eligible employee 28 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave in a 24-month period. For example, if an employee takes 16 weeks under the CFMLA, that employee has exhausted both state and federal entitlements. However, while no further CFMLA leave is required, the FMLA entitlement renews after 12 months allowing that employee to take another 12 weeks, thereby giving that employee 28 weeks of leave in 24 months.
This CFMLA post and the previous FMLA post only scratch the surface of this extremely complicated area of law. Employees and employers should contact experienced labor and employment counsel to ensure that they understand fully their legal rights and obligations under these laws.