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CT Voters Support Paid Family Leave

SB 221 would allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member. (Borya/
SB 221 would allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member. (Borya/
April 14, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. - An overwhelming majority of Connecticut voters surveyed support paid family medical leave for caregivers. One thousand voters were asked how they feel about a measure that's been introduced in the state Legislature that would allow workers to take paid time off to care for a new child or sick family member.

Michael Humes, associate state director of communications for AARP of Connecticut, said the results were decisive.
"Eighty-three percent would support the plan," he said. "And 74 percent would support a candidate for state elections who had worked or would work to implement paid family leave."

The bill, SB 221, was introduced in February and currently has 14 co-sponsors in the General Assembly.

According to Humes, if the bill passes, workers in the state would be able to take up to 12 weeks off at full pay, and the program would be funded by a small payroll deduction.

"Employees would contribute to that," he added. "It would be about half of one percent. So there wouldn't be any cost to employers."

A paid family-leave bill was just signed into law in New York, and about 20 other states are considering paid family-leave bills.

The United States is one of only two countries in the world that doesn't have at least paid maternity leave. And Humes points out that the federal Family and Medical Leave Act only protects people from being fired for taking time off to serve as a family caregiver.

"What we found is that 78 percent of the people who would be eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act don't take it because it's unpaid," he said.

Humes said supporting family caregivers would save the state money too, by allowing seniors with medical needs to be cared for at home, rather than in nursing homes.

The full bill can be read online here.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT