The Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) give most employees in the state the right to take unpaid time off work for:
Both federal and state pregnancy discrimination laws require employers to treat pregnant employees who are temporarily disabled just like employees with other temporary disabilities—including getting time off for medical reasons.
And Connecticut now offers paid time off for family and medical leave, if you qualify. Here's what you need to know about taking pregnancy, maternity, and paternity leave in Connecticut, including how you might get paid during that time off.
If you need pregnancy leave, there are two types of federal and state laws that generally protect your right to take time off work, including:
First, you should know about discrimination laws.
PDA. A federal law called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects you from being discriminated against because of pregnancy. The PDA doesn't say your employer must give you time off if you're unable to work because of your pregnancy. But it does require your employer to treat you the same as other employees with temporary disabilities.
So, if your employer allows employees to take time off when they're temporarily disabled due to illnesses and injuries, you must also be allowed to take time off when you can't work due to pregnancy. And this federal law isn't the only protection from workplace discrimination you have.
PWFA. A new federal law, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), protects your right to take time off work for pregnancy when it's medically necessary. The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations when an employee needs them due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Under this law, reasonable accommodations can include time off work.
State law. Connecticut's pregnancy discrimination law also forbids any employer with at least three employees from discriminating against you because of pregnancy or childbirth. So again, if an employee with a different type of temporary disability can get time off work, you must be allowed to take time off for pregnancy too, even if you don't qualify for leave under the FMLA or CTFMLA (more on these laws below).
Second, know that, under discrimination law, employers must make certain reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. Reasonable accommodations can include any of the following:
Your employer must make reasonable efforts to accommodate your needs as a pregnant employee unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the company.
Next, let's talk about the laws that protect your job while you take leave. The Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) lets you take up to 12 weeks off in any 12-month period for family or health reasons—including pregnancy. If you develop a serious health condition resulting in being totally incapacitated during pregnancy, you can take an additional two weeks of CTFMLA leave. (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 31-51kk to 31-51qq.)
To be entitled to pregnancy leave under the CTFMLA, you must have worked for your employer for at least three consecutive months (13 weeks) immediately before taking leave. But it doesn't matter how many days you worked each week or how many total hours you worked during the three months. As long as you were on your employer's payroll, the week counts.
Under Connecticut's law, once your leave is through, you're entitled to return to your old job, or an equivalent one, unless your employer's circumstances have changed so much that this is unreasonable or impossible.
The CTFMLA applies to most employers with at least one employee, including the state of Connecticut. But it doesn't apply to:
These employers are covered by the federal leave law, FMLA.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees in Connecticut to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off work in a one-year period. To qualify for FMLA leave, you must have a serious health condition, which includes pregnancy and childbirth. But the coverage and eligibility requirements for FMLA leave are slightly different than those of Connecticut family medical leave law.
The federal FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees. And it doesn't matter if your employer is in Connecticut or another state. You're eligible for leave if both of the following are true:
You can also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. (Learn more about when you can take FMLA leave for pregnancy.)
Both the federal FMLA and the CT Family and Medical Leave Act provide for up to 12 weeks of parental leave. This leave can be used to care for and bond with a new child (including an adopted or foster child).
You can use CTFMLA time off for parental leave. If you meet the eligibility requirements described above, you can use up to 12 weeks of CTFMLA maternity or paternity leave after the birth or adoption of a child (or the placement of a foster child).
If you have serious medical complications during pregnancy, you can take an extra two weeks off—giving you up to 14 weeks off under the CTFMLA. But if you use more than two weeks of leave while you're pregnant, the extra time counts against your 12 weeks of annual CTFMLA leave.
For example, let's say you take 4 weeks of pregnancy leave due to medical incapacity. You'd be entitled to an extra two weeks off plus your 12 weeks of CTFMLA leave. So you'd still have 10 weeks of CTFMLA leave left to use for maternity leave within the first year after your child was born.
As with the CTFMLA, maternity or paternity leave under the federal FMLA is part of your total 12-week leave entitlement. So, if you use four weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you'll have eight weeks left to use for parental leave.
Unlike CTFMLA pregnancy leave, you aren't automatically entitled to use federal FMLA parental leave intermittently. But the FMLA doesn't prohibit it either. So if your employer agrees to it, you can use FMLA parental leave a little at a time. (29 U.S.C. 2601, et seq.)
If you're married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit the total amount of FMLA parental leave to 12 weeks for both of you. So if you use six weeks of FMLA parental leave, your spouse would have only six weeks of maternity or paternity leave available under FMLA rules.
The same sharing requirement applies to maternity and paternity leave taken under the Connecticut family medical leave law. But whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA or CTFMLA leave that you don't use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons—including taking care of a family member with a serious health issue or your own medical issues.
Both the federal FMLA and CTFMLA protect your job when you take leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. However, neither provides for paid time off.
But there are a couple of ways you might be paid when you take time off work for the birth (or adoption) of a child. Thanks to new laws, more Connecticut employees are eligible to be paid while on family or medical leave than ever before.
Connecticut now has a paid family and medical leave program. The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) created the Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) program. CTPL provides a cash benefit if you need to take time off for any of the following:
CTPL covers the same 12 weeks as the CTFMLA, including the two extra weeks you might qualify for if you become incapacitated (unable to work) as a result of pregnancy. You can also use CTPL benefits to take time off intermittently in certain circumstances.
And as with the CTFMLA, employers with at least one employee are covered by CTPL. But unlike the CTFMLA, you must meet certain earnings requirements to receive Connecticut's paid medical or family leave benefits.
How to qualify for CT paid family leave. The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, which manages the CPTL program, looks at your wages in the first four quarters of the most recent five quarters before your leave begins. To qualify for CTPL benefits, you must have earned at least $2,325 in wages in the highest earning of those four quarters. Wages include any of the following:
To collect CTPL benefits, one of the following must also be true:
How much does Connecticut family leave pay? The weekly paid leave amount under the CPTL program is 95% of the Connecticut minimum wage times 40, plus 60% of your additional earnings, up to a maximum benefit amount. Sound complicated? It's not if you earn minimum wage. If you earn minimum wage for 40 hours a week, CTPL will simply pay you 95% of your wages in your highest earning quarter.
Things get a bit more complicated when you earn more than minimum wage.
How to apply for paid leave in Connecticut. Paid maternity or paternity leave benefits aren't automatic. You'll need to apply for CTPL benefits separately from your request for CTFMLA leave. You must file a CTPL application through the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority (online or by phone), not through your employer.
If you don't qualify for CTPL (for instance, you didn't earn enough to qualify), you might still be able to receive some income during your time off for pregnancy, maternity, or paternity. Connecticut is one of a few states that require employers to provide paid sick time, which can be used for pregnancy and childbirth.
In Connecticut, service workers, including nurses, restaurant and hotel staff, retail clerks, security guards, and many other employees, must get an 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, you must work for an employer with at least 50 employees.
Employees can use their paid sick leave for their own preventive medical care as well as for their own injury, illness, or health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth. You can learn more at the Connecticut Department of Labor's Paid Sick Leave page.
In addition to sick leave, you can also ask to use your other accrued paid leave (like vacation or PTO) to get paid during your medical or parental leave. Or you could purchase a short-term disability policy that covers pregnancy.
Your employer might offer maternity and paternity leave or parental leave as an employee benefit or through a short-term disability insurance policy. Talk to your HR representative or manager to find out what types of leave are available to you when you're expecting a new child.
Updated August 4, 2023