© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Connecticut’s new family and medical leave program does not cover COVID-related claims

Office of Governor Ned Lamont
Andrea Barton Reeves with Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont as she is named CEO of the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority in January 2020.

A spike in COVID-related claims was responsible for a high number of rejections after the launch of Connecticut's family and medical leave program in January, according to Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the state’s Paid Leave Authority.

The authority’s agents were overwhelmed by COVID-related claims soon after the program began in January, Reeves said.

“It actually coincided with the spike in the Omicron variant," she said. "So, we had thousands of people who were applying paid family and medical leave benefits, but unfortunately being exposed to COVID in and of itself, that wasn’t covered."

Reeves said the authority has since engaged more people to clear the backlog. She spoke just before the state bond commission approved borrowing $3.8 million to help the authority collect contributions from a few employers who have yet to comply with the new state program.

Only about 5,000 of the nearly 180,000 employers in the state have yet to comply, Reeves told members of the commission.

“When we look at where we started and where we are now, I think we have extraordinary compliance with the program," she said. "There will still be some who are philosophically opposed to the plan and will not participate, and those are really the ones that we are trying to get to now."

Reeves said the authority is also stepping up its campaign to educate new businesses about their obligation to make contributions to the program.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.