As you may be aware, the United States is one of only three countries that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits. What you may not know is that there are currently two US states that do offer paid family leave insurance, California and New Jersey, and a third state on the way, Washington.
Connecticut is beginning work to develop a Family and Medical leave insurance program that can provide much needed relief to families and businesses. Employees get sick, aging parents need assistance, and families want to spend time with their newborns. We can learn a lot from the experiences of California and New Jersey as we make plans in Connecticut.
California has had a family leave insurance program since 2004. The California program provides 6 weeks of partial pay (55% of weekly pay up to $1,011). The program is offered to full-time and part-time employees and may be used to care for a loved one or to take time after having a child or adopting. California has a state Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program, so the six weeks offered through their family insurance is in addition to the 6 weeks a new mother can take through TDI. California’s program is entirely employee paid through a minimal payroll tax amounting to $64 a year.
New Jersey’s program is very similar to California. They too have a TDI and offer an additional 6 weeks through their family leave insurance. The New Jersey program provides partial pay of 66% up to $572 and is also entirely employee paid amounting to $33 a year. Washington is in a similar boat to Connecticut in that they do not have a state TDI.
Advocates in Connecticut have started meeting and are beginning to explore how Connecticut could implement a Family and Medical leave insurance program that would support employees needing to take time off for their own sickness, to care for a loved one, or to care for a new baby. They are working closely with advocates from other states in order to learn from past efforts and ensure that Connecticut can create an insurance program that provides relief to the greatest number of families and businesses.