FMLA Proposed Regulations in Review as Notice Requirements Take Effect July 1
June 22, 2022
Proposed amendments to the Connecticut FMLA (CT FMLA) are expected to be reviewed and approved soon by the state’s Legislative Regulation Review Committee. Additionally, new notice requirements become effective July 1, 2022.
In 2019, the state passed two laws that resulted in the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave (CT PFML) program. The first law expanded employee eligibility and other provisions of the existing FMLA program. The second law provided eligible employees with income replacement for up to 12 weeks of leave, funded through employee payroll deductions that commenced in 2021. The paid leave program is overseen by the state’s Paid Leave Authority. Please see our July 9, 2019 article regarding the creation of the CT PFML program for further details.
Accordingly, the proposed regulations amend provisions of the prior CT FMLA regulations to incorporate the changes enacted in 2019 that took effect on January 1, 2022. The regulations also address several other outstanding issues. Among other items, the changes affect the definition of a covered employer, when an employee becomes eligible for leave, individuals for whom an employee can take leave to care for and the related documentation requirements, the amount of leave employees are entitled to, and the process for alleging a violation.
Additionally, each employer is required to provide written notice to each employee at the time of hire and annually thereafter: 1) of the entitlement to CT FMLA and the terms under which such leave may be used, 2) of the opportunity to file a claim for compensation under the program, 3) that retaliation by the employer against the employee for requesting or using such leave is prohibited, and 4) that the employee has a right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any violation. Fortunately, a model notice is available to satisfy the requirement, which takes effect July 1, 2022. Under the proposed regulations, an employer must also notify an employee of their eligibility to take CT FMLA leave no later than five business days after receiving a request to take such leave or learning that the employee is taking leave for a qualifying reason.
Employers should comply with the notice requirements and be aware of the proposed regulations, which are expected to be approved soon without major changes. Employers should consult with employment law counsel for further information and to ensure their leave policies reflect the regulatory updates.
Proposed Regulations »
Notice Requirements »
June 07, 2022
Recently, the state’s new retirement savings program, known as MyCTSavings, opened for registration. The program was created by 2016 legislation (Public Act No. 16-29) and is designed to help private-sector employees without access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. The Connecticut Retirement Security Authority is responsible for overseeing the program.
MyCTSavings requires employers to either sponsor their own retirement plans or participate in the new state program. Specifically, an employer, whether for profit or not-for-profit, must facilitate the program if it:
- Employed five or more employees in Connecticut on October 1 of the previous calendar year, and;
- Paid at least five employees $5,000 or more in taxable wages in the previous calendar year, and;
- Does not currently provide a qualified, employer-sponsored retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan or SIMPLE IRA plan. (Payroll deduction IRAs are not considered a qualified plan.)
Employers who participate in the program enroll employees who have been employed for at least 120 days. The employees make their own contribution and investment elections. However, automatic enrollment at 3% of pay applies to employees who do not opt out or choose a different contribution rate. Default investment elections also apply to those who do not make affirmative elections within a certain timeframe. Contributions under the program are made to Roth IRAs. Employees are responsible for determining their Roth IRA eligibility.
Significantly, the state requires all employers to register with the program regardless of whether they will be participating or claiming an exemption (e.g., because they sponsor a qualified retirement plan). According to the program website, throughout 2022 and early 2023, communications with unique access codes and instructions are being sent to employers who can use this information to register. For employers with 100 or more employees, the registration deadline is June 30, 2022. For employers with 26 – 99 employees, the deadline is October 31, 2022; for employers with 5 – 25 employees, the deadline is March 30, 2023.
Employers should be aware of MyCTSavings and visit the program website, which includes helpful employer FAQs, for further details. Large employers should be mindful of the upcoming June 30, 2022, registration deadline.
Public Act No. 16-29 »
MyCTSavings Employer FAQs »
New Law Addresses Continuation of Dental and Vision Coverage for Children
February 01, 2022
On January 1, 2022, Public Act No. 21-149, “An Act Concerning Dental and Vision Insurance Coverage for Children, Stepchildren and Other Dependent Children,” took effect. This act requires certain health, dental and vision insurance policies to continue coverage for a child, stepchild or other dependent child until the policy anniversary date on or after the date the child turns age 26.
Previously, health policies did not explicitly apply to stepchildren or other dependent children and allowed the policies to terminate coverage for children before age 26 if they obtained coverage through their own employment. As a result, dental and vision policies often ended coverage for children after age 18.
The act applies to individual and group health insurance policies delivered, issued, renewed, amended or continued in Connecticut that covers basic hospital expenses, basic medical-surgical expenses, major medical expenses, accidents only, limited benefits, hospital or medical services, including those provided under an HMO plan or single service ancillary coverage, including dental or vision coverage. These state insurance law requirements do not apply to self-insured benefit plans due to ERISA preemption.
Employers that sponsored insured plans should be aware of this law and may want to consult with their carriers for further information.
Public Act No. 21-149 »
Analysis and Legislative History »
Applications Now Accepted for Paid Family and Medical Leave Program
December 07, 2021
On December 1, 2021, Gov. Lamont announced that applications are now being accepted from residents for the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML). The submissions would be for qualifying events occurring on or after January 1, 2022.
The PFML program allows eligible workers to take paid time off to care for their own health, a newborn child or a sick family member, amongst other reasons. Eligible employees can receive up to 12 weeks of income replacement, with the amount varying based upon the employee’s earnings and capped at 60 times the state’s minimum wage. If an employee is entitled to employer provided benefits in addition to PFML, the combined benefits cannot exceed 100% of the employee’s regular weekly earnings.
The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, which administers the PFML program, is accepting applications through its website or by email, fax, phone, or email. The website provides an instructional video for creating an account, which is required to submit or monitor a claim online.
The website also outlines the claims process and applicable timeframes. Generally, after a claim is filed, the employer must verify certain information to validate the employee’s eligibility and claim payment amount. Supporting documentation must then be submitted before the claim decision is made. The website indicates that benefits paid through the program will be issued weekly and paid two weeks in arrears.
Employers should be aware of the recent announcement and review the PFML website resources regarding the claims process.
For Claims »
Transitional Guidance Issued on Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act Changes
October 12, 2021
The state Department of Labor recently provided guidance regarding amendments to the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA) scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2022. Specifically, the release is designed to assist employers with administering leave during the transitional period from 2021 to 2022.
Under the current CT FMLA provisions, eligible employees are entitled to 16 weeks of leave in a 24-month period. Effective January 1, 2022, employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. Employees incapacitated by a serious health condition due to pregnancy may be entitled to an additional 2 weeks of leave.
According to the new guidance, if an employee commences leave in 2021, the duration of their leave as of January 1, 2022, would be limited to 12 weeks in the applicable 12-month measurement period that the employer uses (e.g., calendar year, rolling lookback or other method). This would be the case even if the employee was approved for and had already commenced 16 weeks of leave in 2021. Therefore, in 2022, the employer can look back over the applicable 12-month period to see if the employee has used any leave to determine if they have time available. Examples are provided for each of the four methods that may be used for calculating the 12-month period.
Employers should be aware of this update. However, the guidance does not have the binding force of regulations, which are anticipated to be released later this year. Accordingly, it is advisable for employers to consult with counsel for assistance regarding leave administration during this transition period, and any related updates to employee communications and leave policies.
Guidance concerning the transition to the new FMLA law on 1/1/22 when an employee has an already approved FMLA leave »
New Law Extends Relaxed Telehealth Service Requirements
May 25, 2021
On May 10, 2021, Gov. Lamont signed House Bill 5596 into law. This legislation provides a two-year extension of the relaxed telehealth service requirements that were previously enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, Gov. Lamont enacted emergency Executive Order No. 7G, which suspended certain telehealth limitations to enable more residents to use telehealth services. For example, the order expanded the types of providers and licensed professionals who can provide telehealth services and permitted licensed providers in other states to provide telehealth services to state residents. The order also allowed for the use of audio-only services. For further information on Executive Order No. 7G, please see our March 31, 2020, Compliance Corner article.
In recognition of the benefits of allowing broader access to telehealth services, the recent law extends the relaxed standards through at least June 30, 2023.
Group health plan sponsors may want to be aware of this development.
House Bill 5596 »
Website Offers PFMLA Resources for Employers
November 10, 2020
New resources were recently released on the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) website. These include materials designed to assist employers with their PFMLA compliance obligations.
As background, in June 2019, Gov. Lamont signed legislation that requires private employers to provide paid leave to eligible employees who work in the state. The leave can be taken for life events covered under the federal FMLA, the state FMLA and the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act. (The law was covered in our July 9, 2019, edition of Compliance Corner.)
The leave is funded through employee payroll deductions. Accordingly, effective January 1, 2021, employers are required to begin withholding a percentage (up to a maximum of .50%) of employee wages. The withheld amounts must be submitted quarterly to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, which is responsible for administering the leave benefits. Eligible employees may begin taking PFMLA leave on January 1, 2022.
The website materials include an employer fact sheet, toolkit and poster. Registration requirements are explained. Frequently asked questions have been updated and address a wide variety of issues regarding the paid leave and an employer’s related responsibilities.
Affected employers should be aware of the website and available PFMLA resources.
PFMLA Website »
Premium Grace Period Required
April 14, 2020
On April 1, 2020, Gov. Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7S, which addressed various health and safety measures related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Amongst other items, the order requires insurers to provide a premium grace period for certain individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 emergency.
Following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the governor declared a public health emergency on March 10, 2020. With recognition of the worker displacement and business disruption resulting from the disease and mitigation measures, the governor had previously issued a bulletin requesting that insurers take measures to prevent unnecessary policy cancellations or nonrenewals.
Order No. 7S now requires a 60-day grace period (beginning on April 1, 2020) with respect to premium payments and policy cancellations and nonrenewals for certain insureds affected financially by the COVID-19 emergency. The grace period is not a waiver or forgiveness of the owed premium, but rather an extension of time for payment.
The requirement applies to entities licensed or regulated by the Insurance Department that provide any insurance coverage in the state including, life, health, auto, property, casualty and other types. However, the extension is not automatic; eligible individuals or businesses would need to contact their carriers to avail themselves of the temporary relief.
Specifically, insurers must provide the extension to individual policy holders who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were laid off, furloughed, fired from employment, or otherwise sustained a significant loss in revenue. Additionally, the grace period must also be extended to businesses that are group policyholders, have group insurance and/or property/casualty insurance, and were required to close or significantly reduce operations or suffered significant revenue loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualifying individuals or businesses may be required to provide a supporting affidavit or other statement acceptable to their carriers.
Although this provision of the order is primarily directed at insurers, employers should be aware of these developments and the available temporary premium relief for qualifying individuals and businesses.
Executive Order No. 7S »
Financial Protections for Health Care Providers and Consumers
April 14, 2020
On April 5, 2020, Gov. Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7U, which aimed to provide financial protections to health care providers and consumers. These measures are intended to ensure the state’s health care workforce and facilities have the necessary capacity to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Additionally, the order seeks to mitigate the adverse financial impacts of COVID-19 treatment on consumers.
As background, the governor had declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis on March 10, 2020. In response, the state’s health care workforce was supplemented by professionals who did not maintain liability coverage, including volunteers and out-of-state professionals. Additionally, the state recognized that the unexpected costs of COVID-19 treatment may significantly affect the financial security of the state’s residents.
As a result, the order provides certain protections from civil liabilities for health care professionals and facilities due to acts or omissions that were undertaken in good faith while supporting the state’s COVID-19 response. Included are acts or omissions resulting from a lack of resources that prevented a level or manner of care that would normally be required absent the pandemic.
The consumer financial protections extend to the uninsured and those covered by insurance who receive out-of-network health care services during the emergency. Specifically, if emergency services are provided to an insured out-of-network, the carrier may be billed directly and is only required to pay the in-network rates as payment in full for the services. Additionally, the order specifies that a hospital providing COVID-19 treatment and management services to an uninsured patient may collect no more than the Medicare rate for such services as payment in full. Furthermore, hospitals are prohibited from billing individuals for uncovered COVID-19 treatment and management services pending clarification of the availability of federal funds to cover such services.
The order is primarily directed at health care providers, facilities and hospitals, but employers should be aware of these developments.
Executive Order No. 7U »
Insurance Department Calls for Premium Grace Period
March 31, 2020
On March 24, 2020, the Insurance Department issued Bulletin Number IC-40 regarding insurance premium payments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The bulletin is directed at admitted and non-admitted insurance companies, licensed producers and other interested parties.
Due to the significant economic disruptions and loss of income following the COVID-19 outbreak, consumers and businesses have been substantially impacted. As a result, the bulletin requests insurers providing any coverage in the state, including life, health, auto, property, casualty and other types, to offer a premium grace period.
Specifically, the Department requests that all insurance companies provide their insureds with at least a 60 day grace period to pay insurance premiums and thus avoid cancellation for nonpayment. The request is intended to be applied to premiums due after the initial premium has been made to secure coverage. It is not intended as a forgiveness of the premium, but an extended grace period for payment without penalty or interest. The memo also requests that agents and brokers who accept insurance premium payments on behalf of insureds provide customers with alternative prompt payment options, such as online payments, to eliminate the need for in person payments.
Employer and brokers should be aware of this premium grace period request.
Bulletin Number IC-40 »