In January 2012, Connecticut became the first state to guarantee its workers the right to earn paid sick time. This legislation passed as a way to impact the more than 400,00 Connecticut employees, mostly low wage workers, who lack paid sick days. By passing this policy, the state of Connecticut recognized that giving people the time to take care of an illness has positive outcomes for that individual, their family, the workforce and society.
But "paid sick days" legislation only addresses the time needed for a minor illness. What happens when someone needs more than a few days to recover or to receive treatment? Ask anyone, and they know someone who has cancer or have had cancer themselves. Cancer treatment requires more than a couple of days out of work. How does that person and their employer manage the time out of work, or afford it for that matter?
What about an unexpected care giving responsibility, like when an aging parent becomes ill or a pregnancy requires bed rest. Both of these situations require more than 5 days out of work. The majority of Connecticut employees do not qualify for Connecticut's Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) job protection, and even if they did, they can't afford to take an unpaid leave, especially during a time when finances may already be strained.
CAHS is pleased to be a part of a group of diverse advocates who have come together to respond to the health and care giving realities of Connecticut's working families. Families and businesses need relief when long-term illness, childbirth and care giving responsibilities result in missed income or job loss. Advocates would eventually like to have Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FMLI) for Connecticut's working families. This year, advocates are asking elected officials to study ways Connecticut can have FMLI.
Advocates believe that FMLI is good for people, businesses and the state's prosperity, as it has been linked to greater workforce participation and job tenure. As the state of Connecticut continues to move toward employment practices that reflect the current realities of today's working families, they should be considering FMLI.