Both federal and Connecticut statutes provide for mandatory leaves of absences in certain situations. The statutes require the employers to keep the employee’s job open during the leave and, in certain cases, to continue the employee’s health coverage.
The most-known statute in this area is the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, Public Law 103-3 (FMLA). Under FMLA, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following: (1) the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee; (2) placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care; (3) to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or (4) when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
Only employers that maintain 50 or more employees on their payroll during 20 or more calendar weeks in either the current or the preceding calendar year are obligated to provide FMLA leave. In addition, employees are not eligible for FMLA leave until they have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.
Under the FMLA, an employer must continue the employee’s coverage under any group health plan while the employee is on leave.
The state equivalent of FMLA is the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA), Section 31-51kk et seq. of the Connecticut General Statutes. Under CFMLA, eligible employees may take up to 16 weeks of leave in a 24-month period under the following circumstances: (1) upon the birth of a child; (2) upon the placement of a child for adoption or foster care; (3) in order to care for the spouse, child, parent or parent-in-law of the employee if such person has a serious health condition; or (4) because of the serious health condition of the employee. Effective July 10, 2007 parties to civil unions are eligible for the same CFLMLA benefits as spouses.
Only employers that maintain 75 or more employees on their payroll as of October 1 of any given year, obligated to provide CFMLA. Employees must have worked for the employer for a total of 12 or more months, and worked for at least 1,000 hours during the 12 months preceding the leave.
It should be noted that both FMLA and CFMLA have been extensively interpreted by courts in clarifying eligibility, coverage, and the position the employee must be returned to upon expiration of the leave. It is important to consult an attorney for a full understanding of the law.
In addition to FMLA and CFMLA, the laws provide leave for military service, jury duty, and participation in criminal court proceedings as a witness or a victim.
Both federal (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq.) and state statutes (Section 27-33a of the Connecticut General Statutes) require employers to grant military leaves of absence and provides job protection and reinstatement rights to employees who serve in the uniformed services.
Also, under Sections and 51-247 and 51-247a of the Connecticut General Statutes, employers are also required to allow employees to serve when called for jury duty and to pay all full-time employees their regular wages for the first five days of jury service. Employers may not discharge employees or otherwise threaten them because they serve as jurors. An employer that violates this juror protective statute may be liable for lost wages, not to exceed ten weeks.
Finally, under Section 54-85b of the Connecticut General Statutes, employees who are witnesses or victims of crime may not be discharged or penalized because they appear to testify before any court as a witness in a criminal proceedings or participate in police in a police investigation related to a criminal case in which the employee is a crime victim. Any employer who violates this statute is guilty of criminal contempt and may be fined up to five hundred dollars, imprisoned for up to thirty days, or both.
For more information, please contact Attorney David A. Baram.