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Connecticut employers organization gripes about new family and medical leave law during pandemic

Toshiyuki IMAI

Some Connecticut employers are worried that the state’s new paid family and medical leave program will make it difficult for businesses to find and keep employees already hit hard by the pandemic.

More than 5,500 Connecticut workers have applied for up to 12 weeks of paid leave since the program launched last month. 

Eric Gjede, the vice president of public policy for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he worries residents are going to take advantage of the paid leave program because they pay taxes to pay for it.

“The best thing we can do right now is to stop doing and enacting this type of labor mandate on businesses in Connecticut. We have a real opportunity to come out of this pandemic with a stronger economy than what we had going into it as long as lawmakers don’t screw it up,” Gjede said.

Last year, the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority had collected just over $300 million from employers through a point-five-percent tax on worker earnings to pay for the program.

Just over half of applicants were under 40 years old. Most were parents on leave for pregnancies and caring for infants. 

About 36% of applicants were recovering from injuries that were approved by a health professional, and were not covered by workers compensation. 

The state has yet to approve any applicant citing COVID-19 as a reason for paid leave.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.