The Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act (CFMLA) gives some employees the right to time off work for pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting, and Connecticut is one of a small handful of states that requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave for employees. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also gives you the right to take unpaid leave for these reasons, and the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Law (PDA) requires employers to treat pregnant employees who are temporarily disabled just like employees with other temporary disabilities.
There are two types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave: laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination and laws that require pregnancy leave.
The Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act (CFMLA) gives employees the right to take up to 16 weeks off in any 24-month period for a serious health condition, which includes pregnancy. However, the CFMLA applies only to employers with at least 75 employees. Employees are eligible for leave only if they have worked for the employer for at least a year, for at least 1,000 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding their leave.
Connecticut also has a pregnancy disability leave law, which requires employers that have at least three employees to provide a “reasonable” leave of absence to employees who are disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Once an employee’s leave is through, she is entitled to return to her old position or an equivalent one, unless the employer’s circumstances have changed so much that this is unreasonable or impossible.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Law (PDA) does not require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. However, it does require employers to treat employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy just as it treats employees who are temporarily disabled for illnesses and injuries.
Connecticut state law also requires that employers make certain reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. While state law does not require employers to offer time off as an accommodation, but it does allow for transfers of pregnant employees. An employer must make reasonable efforts to transfer a pregnant employee to a different position, if either the employer or employee reasonably believes that continuing to work in her usual position could harm her health or the health of the fetus.
The federal FMLA gives eligible employees in Connecticut the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for serious health conditions including pregnancy. However, the coverage and eligibility requirements are slightly different than those imposed by the CFMLA. The federal FMLA applies to employers with only 50 or more employees. Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding their leave. Employees may take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. (Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)
The CFMLA also provides parental leave. If you meet the eligibility requirements described above, you may use CFMLA leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Any leave you use during your pregnancy will be subtracted from your total leave entitlement of 16 weeks in a 24-month period. So, if you take four weeks off while pregnant, you will have 12 weeks left to use for parental leave.
The FMLA also gives employees the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether biological, adopted, or foster. As with the CFMLA, this is part of your total 12-week leave entitlement. So, if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have ten weeks left to use for parenting leave.
If you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA a little at a time, your employer must agree to it. You aren’t automatically entitled to use your parenting leave intermittently as you are with pregnancy leave.
If you are married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit your total amount of FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both of you. The same sharing requirement applies to parenting leave taken under the CFMLA. However, whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave or 16 weeks of CMFLA leave that you don’t use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons, including your own serious health condition.
Example: Betsy and her husband Jake both work for the same employer. Betsy's doctor puts her on bed rest for the last five weeks of her pregnancy. She uses her remaining seven weeks of FMLA leave for parenting. This means Jake has only five weeks of parenting leave under the FMLA. However, if he gets sick later, or the baby develops a serious health condition, he will still have seven weeks of FMLA leave to use for these other reasons.
Connecticut is one of a few states that requires employers to provide paid sick time, which could be used for pregnancy and childbirth.
In Connecticut, service workers, including nurses, restaurant and hotel staff, retail clerks, security guards, and many other positions, are entitled to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work, up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. To be covered by this law, employees must work for a employer with at least 50 employees.
Employees may use their paid sick leave for their own preventive medical care as well as for their own injury, illness, or health condition, including pregnancy. You can learn more at the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Paid Sick Leave page.
FMLA leave is unpaid. However, you may ask (or your employer may require you) to use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off.
Your employer may also offer maternity and paternity leave benefits, parental benefits, or its own short-term disability insurance. Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.