First payments reaching participants in the state’s paid vacation program

WINDSOR — Hundreds of payments have already been made to early participants in the state’s paid family and medical leave program, several days ahead of the official Jan. 18 start date, state officials led by the Governor Ned Lamont.

“It makes Connecticut a leader that I like to think the rest of the country will follow,” Lamont said at a blustery, chilly press conference outside The Hartford’s headquarters here, where the program’s administrator, Atlanta-based insurer Aflac, Inc. has an office.

Lamont said the program, which sends Visa debit cards, should attract more talent to the state.


“I want Connecticut to be the most family-friendly state in the United States of America,” the governor said. “It’s the right thing to do for this parent. It’s the right thing to do for this mom. It’s the right thing to do for this kid. It is the right thing to do to keep this economy growing. This is one more reason why you as a young family should think about moving to the state of Connecticut; settle here; start a business or go to work.

About 1,000 people will receive paid leave in January and February for a variety of reasons, including caring for loved ones, adopting or caring for newborns, or recovering from medical procedures.

Between $480,000 and $600,000 is expected to reach candidates over the next week under the projected $400 million annual benefit package that was approved by the General Assembly in 2019 and signed into law by Lamont, creating a holdback on 1% statewide payroll.

More than 9,200 people have applied for the benefit, which is administered under a three-year contract with Atlanta-based Aflac at a cost of $25 million per year, said Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority of Connecticut.

Barton said 4,200 requests were for workers’ own health conditions, and another 4,000 for pregnancy, childbirth and liaison leave. Eleven leaves were requested for adoption and foster care or for people who had suffered domestic violence. Five leaves were requested for organ donation and one leave each was requested for bone marrow donation and military leave.

“This program is fully funded by workers, so today we are really excited because this is an opportunity to let workers take care of themselves and their loved ones, without having to worry about ending up without no income in their homes while they take care of themselves,” Reeves said, calling for one of the most generous new programs in the country.

Requirements include that applicants have worked 12 continuous weeks with a covered employer; and have earned at least $2,325 in the best quarter of the first four or five recently completed quarters. For minimum wage workers, the leave benefit is $494 per week. Other benefits depend on how much people are paid. Someone earning a gross annual salary of $60,000 would see a weekly benefit of $780 for up to 12 weeks.

The legislation was successfully pursued by State Representative Robyn Porter, D-New Haven and State Senator Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, the co-chairs of the Labor Legislative Committee. “It’s one of our babies,” Porter said, noting that timely payments will become an important part of the program.

“We know that the majority of women in this state are the people who sustain this economy, and this bill is going to have an impact, especially on low-wage workers who don’t have access to benefits, paid vacation , sick leave, all that stuff,” Porter said. “This legislation is not just historic, it is transformative.”

Kushner, a former regional director for the United Auto Workers, said when she campaigned for the Senate in 2018, paid vacation was one of her top priorities. “We’ve built one of the strongest programs in the country,” Kushner said. “This will benefit the people of Connecticut. For too long, people have had to choose between caring for a sick family member or caring for themselves and a paycheck.

More information is available on the CT Paid Leave website: ctpaidleave.org, or by calling Aflac at (877) 499-8606.

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