Connecticut
Department of Labor

Connecticut Department Of Labor

Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act FAQs

Updated October 5, 2022

This guidance is designed to provide a service to employers and employees in Connecticut. It does not constitute legal advice. Although the Department of Labor makes every effort to provide quality information, it makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein.

This FAQ only applies to the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) as of January 1, 2022.

 

 

General

Q1. Has the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act changed?

Yes.  The CTFMLA was amended and the new changes to the law went into effect on January 1, 2022. The text of the amended law is available on the General Assembly’s website.

 

Q2. What does the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act now provide?

The CTFMLA provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for qualifying family or medical leave reasons. Employees are also entitled to return to their same or, if not available, an equivalent job at the end of their leave.

Employees may take up to 2 additional weeks of leave during the 12-month period for a serious health condition resulting in incapacitation that occurs during a pregnancy.

It also allows eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

 

 

Coverage

Q3. What types of employers does the CTFMLA apply to?

The CTFMLA applies to employers with one or more employees, including the State of Connecticut.

The CTFMLA does NOT apply to municipalities, local or regional boards of education, or nonpublic elementary or secondary schools (unless the employee is a school paraprofessional). An entity becomes an employer covered by the Act upon the first employee’s date of hire.

 

Q4. How do the CTFMLA and federal FMLA interact?

The CTFMLA and the federal FMLA are different.  Generally, the CTFMLA is for an employer with one or more employers, and the federal FMLA is for private employers with 50 or more employees and any public agency, including municipalities, local or regional boards of education, and nonpublic elementary or secondary schools. However, if an employee’s leave is covered by both statutes, the leaves MAY run at the same time. (Below you will see for what family members an eligible employee may take a leave under each law.)

For example, if Huong uses 12 weeks of CTFMLA leave to care for a grandparent with a serious health condition, Huong would still be entitled to her full federal FMLA leave entitlement during the leave year, since the federal FMLA does not cover leave for grandparents. However, if Huong is taking a leave for her own serious health condition, the leaves would run at the same time.

The Connecticut Department of Labor only administers the CTFMLA.  Any questions or complaints related to the federal FMLA should be directed to the U.S. Department of Labor.

 

Q5. How much leave am I entitled to if I started leave before January 1, 2022 and the leave carried over into the new year?

CTFMLA changed from a maximum of 16 weeks of leave in a 24-month period to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. However, if you began your CTFMLA leave prior to January 1, 2022, the duration of your CTFMLA leave would be capped at 12 weeks in the applicable 12-month period as of January 1, 2022, even if you were approved for, and commenced, 16 weeks of CTFMLA leave in 2021. For example, if you began CT FMLA leave on December 1, 2021 and were initially approved for 16 weeks of leave, that leave would be capped at 12 weeks and you would need to return to work on February 23, 2022.

 

Q6. My employer was not covered by the CTFMLA prior to January 1, 2022, because the company had under 75 employees. If I took leave to care for my own serious health condition in December 2021 (prior to my employer being covered by the CTFMLA), can my employer count that leave against my 12-week CTFMLA entitlement in 2022? 

Because your employer was too small to be a covered employer under the CTFMLA prior to January 1, 2022, no leave provided to employees 2021 can be counted against the employees’ CTFMLA leave entitlements under the new rule. This is true even if the leave would otherwise have been for a qualifying reason under the CTFMLA. As of January 1, 2022, employees would be eligible for up to the full 12 weeks of CTFMLA, provided that they have been employed for at least three months and are seeking leave for a qualifying reason.

 

Eligibility

Q7. Who can take CTFMLA leave?

An employee may take CTFMLA leave if they have been employed by the employer for at least 3 consecutive months.

 

Q8. How is “at least 3 months” calculated? Can I prospectively request leave for when I reach eligibility?

For purposes of determining whether employment qualifies as “at least 3 consecutive months,” 13 weeks is deemed to be equal to 3 months. The employer’s maintaining the employee on its payroll for any part of a week (including any paid or unpaid leaves) counts as a week of employment.

An employee may request leave before they are eligible for a date after the 3 month-threshold.

 

 

Pay While on Leave

Q9. Is my employer required to pay me when I take CTFMLA leave?

Generally, CTFMLA leave is unpaid. However, an employee’s accrued, paid leave time with the employer, such as vacation, sick leave, personal leave or paid time off, may be applied to the leave if required by the employer or requested by the employee. An employee may choose to preserve up to 2 weeks of their accrued, paid leave time.

Additionally, wage replacement benefits under Connecticut’s Paid Leave program may apply, as well as short-term or long-term disability benefits, or workers’ compensation depending upon the eligibility requirement for those leaves. More information about Connecticut’s Paid Leave program is available at https://ctpaidleave.org/.

 

 

Health Benefits While on Leave

Q10. Do I receive health benefits while I am on leave?

Employers are not required to maintain an employee’s group health benefits during the period the employee is on CTFMLA leave. However, there may be other laws, including Section 38a-512a of the Connecticut General Statutes, which require continuation of coverage in certain circumstances. Employers should consult with an adviser to determine which laws are applicable to them.

When an employer terminates group health benefits during an employee’s CTFMLA leave period, and the employee returns from leave, they must be restored to all benefits they were enrolled in at the time their leave began with no restrictions or delay, subject to any changes in benefits that took place during the period of CTFMLA leave affecting the entire workforce.

NOTE: Under the federal FMLA, covered employers are required to maintain an employee's coverage under any group health plan on the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period.

Employers who are covered under both the federal FMLA and the CTFMLA must follow the federal requirements for maintaining health benefits.

 

Leave Period

Q11. How is the 12-month period of leave determined?

The employer has 4 options to determine the 12-month period under the CTFMLA:

  • (1) A calendar year;
  • (2) Any fixed 12-month period, such as a fiscal year or a 12-month period measured forward from the employee’s first date of employment;
  • (3) A 12-month period measured forward from the employee’s first day of leave taken; or
  • (4) A rolling 12-month period measure backwards from the date the employee takes CTFMLA leave.

Employers may select any of these four methods but must apply it uniformly to all employees.

Under the “rolling” back method of calculating the 12-month period, each time an employee takes CTFMLA leave, the remaining leave entitlement would be the balance of the 12 weeks which has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months.

 

Example 1
Sol requests 3 weeks of CTFMLA leave to begin on July 31st. The employer looks back 12 months (from July 31st back to the previous August 1st) to see if any CTFMLA leave had been used. She has not taken any previous CTFMLA leave, so she is entitled to the three weeks she requested and has nine more weeks available at the end of her leave.

 

Example 2
Ellis requests 2 weeks of CTFMLA leave to begin on November 1st. The employer looks back 12 months (from November 1st back to the previous November 2nd) and sees that he had taken 4 weeks of CTFMLA leave beginning January 1st, 4 weeks beginning March 1st, and 3 weeks beginning June 1st. So, Ellis has taken 11 weeks of CTFMLA leave in the 12-month look-back period and only has 1 week of CTFMLA leave available. Ellis is not eligible for the full 2 weeks he requested. After Ellis takes the 1 week in November, he would next be eligible to take CTFMLA leave beginning January 1st as the days of his previous January leave “roll off” the leave year. Below is an illustration of the rolling calculation:

12 month look back

(Graph credit: US DOL)

 

 

Q12. When can an eligible employee use CTFMLA leave?

A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The birth of a child and care within the first year after birth;
  • The placement of a child with employee for adoption or foster care and care for child within the first year after placement;
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Because of the employee’s own serious health condition;
  • To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor;
  • To address qualifying exigencies arising from a spouse, son, daughter or parent’s active duty service in the armed forces; or
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin with a serious injury or illness incurred on active duty in the armed forces.

 

Q13. Who is considered a “family member” under the CTFMLA?
  • "Family member" means a spouse (the person to whom one is legally married), sibling, son or daughter, grandparent, grandchild or parent, or an individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships (significant personal bond). An “Affinity Relationship” exists if you consider your relationship with an individual to be equivalent to the relationship one would have with a spouse, sibling, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild, or parent. The federal FMLA employs a narrower definition of for whom an employee may care and be eligible for leave.
  • "Spouse" means the person to whom you are legally married.
  • "Parent" means your or your spouse’s biological, adopted, or foster parent, stepparent, parent-in-law, legal guardian, or an individual standing in loco parentis to you currently or when you were a child.
  • "Grandchild" means a grandchild related to a person by blood, marriage, adoption by a child of the grandparent, or foster care by a child of the grandparent
  • "Grandparent" means a grandparent related to a person by blood, marriage, adoption of a minor child by a child of the grandparent, or foster care by a child of the grandparent
  • "Sibling" means a your or your spouse’s biological, adopted, or foster brother or sister, half-brother or half-sister, stepbrother or stepsister, or brother-in-law or sister-in-law.
  • "Son or daughter" means your biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, legal ward, or an individual to whom you stand in loco parentis currently or when the individual was a child. A son or daughter may be of any age.
  • In loco parentis” under the CTFMLA includes, but is not limited to, persons with day-to-day responsibilities to care for and/or financially support a child or, in the case of an employee, the person who had such responsibility for the employee when the employee was a child. A biological or legal relationship is not necessary.

 

Q14. What can an employer ask of an employee to demonstrate the “family member” relationship?

For purposes of confirming that an individual is a spouse, sibling, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild or parent of the employee, the employer may require the employee giving notice of the need for leave to provide a simple written statement, signed by the employee, verifying that the individual is the employee’s spouse, sibling, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild or parent. A marriage certificate, birth certificate or other official document cannot be required by the employer.

This simple written statement requirement also applies to Affinity Relationships. If required, the employee need only provide a simple written statement, signed by the employee, describing and verifying that (1) the employee considers his or her affinity relationship to an individual to be equivalent to the relationship that one would have with either a spouse, sibling, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild or parent, and (2) the relationship involves a significant personal bond (e.g., John Smith is like a brother to me). An employee does not need to have a biological or legal relationship with the individual, rather there only needs to be a significant personal bond.

A sample Family Member Verification form is available on the Labor Department’s website.

 

Q15. When can a parent take leave for a newborn?

Either parent has the same right to take CTFMLA leave to bond with a newborn child. An expectant mother can also take CTFMLA leave for prenatal care, incapacity related to pregnancy, and for her own serious health condition following the birth of a child. A spouse can also use CTFMLA leave to care for his or her spouse who is incapacitated due to pregnancy or childbirth.

 

Q16. What if spouses work for the same employer and are seeking leave to bond with a newborn child?

When both spouses work for the same employer, they may be limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period if the leave is for birth and bonding; adoption or placement of a foster child; or care for family member. 

Example: Maud is disabled for 8 weeks after giving birth. Pat, Maud’s spouse, is entitled to take 8 weeks to care for Maud due to her serious health condition. Even though each has 4 weeks remaining, the couple may only use a total of 4 weeks combined for bonding because weeks must be shared if spouses, both working for the same employer, want bonding time. If one spouse uses 4 weeks for bonding, the other spouse has no more leave time remaining for bonding.

 

Q17. What does “needed to care for” mean?

“Needed to care for” a family member encompasses both physical and psychological care. It includes situations where, for example, because of a serious health condition, the family member is unable to care for his or her own basic needs. The term also includes providing psychological comfort and reassurance which would be beneficial to the family member.

Additionally, it includes situations where the employee may be needed to fill in for others who are caring for the family member or to make arrangements for changes in care. An employee's intermittent leave to care for a family member includes not only a situation where the family member's condition itself is intermittent, but also where the employee is only needed intermittently.

 

 

Leave Scheduling

Q18. Does an employee have to take leave all at once or can it be taken periodically or to reduce the employee’s schedule?

Leave does not have to be taken all at once. Employees may take CTFMLA leave intermittently (in separate blocks of time) or to reduce their work schedule for their own serious health condition or for the serious health condition of a family member.

 

Q19. Can an employer change an employee’s job when the employee takes intermittent or reduced schedule leave?

The employer may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternative job with equivalent pay and benefits that accommodate recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular job only when the leave is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment. The job does not have to have equivalent duties but must have equivalent pay and benefits. 

Additionally, the employer may transfer the employee to a part-time job with the same rate of pay and benefits so long as the employee is not required to take more leave than is medically necessary.

The employee must be returned to their original position when the leave is over.

 

Q20. How are leave increments calculated?

If an employee is taking intermittent leave, the leave increments are calculated as fractions of workweeks, not as hours. For example, if an employee works 35 hours per week and takes 7 hours of leave, that counts as 1/5 of a workweek. If an employee works 48 hours per week and takes 8 hours of leave, that would be 1/6 of a workweek.

An employer may deduct mandatory overtime hours that an employee does not work due to CTFMLA leave from the employee’s CTFMLA leave entitlement.  Voluntary overtime hours that an employee does not work due to CTFMLA leave cannot be deducted from an employee’s CTFMLA leave entitlement.

 

 

Serious Health Condition

Q21. What is a serious health condition?

An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition which involves:

  • (1) Inpatient care or recovery;
  • (2) Incapacitation of more than 3 consecutive calendar days plus 2 visits to a health care professional where the first visit in within the first week of the condition and the second is within 30 days;
  • (3) Incapacitation of more than 3 consecutive calendar days plus 1 visit to a health care professional within the first week of the condition and a regimen of treatment, such as prescription medication or physical therapy;
  • (3) Pregnancy: Any period of incapacity because of pregnancy or prenatal care. A doctor’s visit at the time of each absence is not required;
  • (5) Chronic Conditions: Any period of incapacity due to or treatment for a chronic serious health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, migraine headaches. A chronic serious health condition requires at least 2 visits to a health care provider per year and recurs over an extended period of time;
  • (6) Permanent or long-term conditions: Where a period of incapacity which is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective, but which requires the continuing supervision of a health care provider, such as Alzheimer’s disease or the terminal stages of cancer;
  • (7) Conditions requiring multiple treatments: Such as restorative surgery after an accident or other injury; or a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days if the patient did not receive the treatment.

 

Q22. Who is a health care provider?

Health care provider is broadly defined and can include health care professionals other than doctors. For example, nurses, physician's assistants, optometrists, chiropractors, social workers and certain Christian Science practitioners are considered health care providers under the CTFMLA.

 

 

Certification & Recertification

Q23. Am I required to prove that I have a serious health condition?

An employer may require a medical certification to support a request for leave based on the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member. Sample medical certification forms for an employee and an employee’s family member are available on the Labor Department’s website.

 

Q24. Under what other circumstances can an employer require an employee’s leave request to be supported by a certification?

An employer may also require that an employee’s need for leave because of a qualifying exigency or military caregiver leave be supported by a certification. For additional detail, see the section regarding “Military Provisions” below. Sample certification forms for qualifying exigency leave and military caregiver leave are available on the Labor Department’s website.

 

Q25. If my employer requires a medical certification, how long do I have to return the required paperwork?

An employer must allow the employee at least 15 calendar days from the date the employee receives the medical certification form to return it to the employer. If 15 days is not practical despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts, the employer must grant an extension.  The employee must notify the employer of the need for additional time.

 

Q26. What happens if my employer says my medical certification is incomplete or insufficient?

An employer must advise the employee if it finds the certification is incomplete or insufficient and allow the employee a reasonable opportunity to fix the certificate. The employer must put in writing what additional information is needed. It also must allow the employee at least 7 calendar days to cure the deficiency, unless 7 days is not practical under the circumstances despite the employee’s diligent good faith efforts, and the employee has notified the employer of the need for additional time.

 

Q27. What do “incomplete” or “insufficient” mean with respect to the medical certification?

Incomplete” means that one or more of the applicable entries have not been completed by the health care provider.

Insufficient” means that the certification is filled out, but the information provided is vague, ambiguous, or non-responsive.

 

Q28. Can my employer get a second opinion?

Yes, an employer may require a second or third medical opinion (at the employer’s expense), if they have reason to doubt the validity of the medical certification. 

 

Q29. Do I have to give my employer my medical records for leave due to a serious health condition?

No, an employee is not required to give the employer their medical records. Only a medical certification can be required. 

 

Q30. How soon after I request leave does my employer have to request a medical certification of a serious health condition?

An employer should request the medical certification within 5 days after the employee gives notice of the need for leave. An employer may request certification or recertification at a later date or if they have reason to question the appropriateness or duration of leave.

 

Q31. May my employer contact my health care provider about my serious health condition?

An employer may contact the employee’s health care provider for purposes of authentication or clarification of the medical certification, after the employee has been given an opportunity to cure any deficiencies. The employer may have another health care provider, a human resource professional, a leave administrator, or a member of management contact the health care provider. The employer can never have the employer’s direct supervisor contact the health care provider. However, any employer has the option to require the employee to obtain the additional information.

 

Q32. What do “authentication” and “clarification” mean?

Authentication” means providing the health care provider with a copy of the certification and requesting verification that the information contained on the certification form was completed or authorized by the health care provider who signed the document.

Clarification” means contacting the health care provider, with the employee’s permission, to understand the handwriting on the medical certification or to understand the meaning of a response.  The employer must obtain the employee’s permission in order to seek clarification.

 

Q33. What happens if I do not give my employer permission to contact my health care provider for the purpose of clarifying my medical certification?

If an employee does not provide permission, the employee must obtain the clarification from the health care provider. If the employee does not obtain clarification, the employer can deny the leave.

 

Q34. How often may my employer ask for medical certifications for an ongoing serious health condition?

Generally, employers may ask for recertification no more often than every thirty (30) days, and only in connection with an absence by the employee.

 

Q35. Can my employer ask for a recertification if it’s been less than 30 days since my last certification?

An employer can ask for recertification in less than 30 days if:

  • (1) the employee requests an extension;
  • (2) the circumstances of the leave have changed significantly; or
  • (3) the employer doubts the validity of the certification.

 

Q36. Can my employer designate CTFMLA leave if I do not return the medical certification? What if I don’t want my leave designated as CTFMLA leave?

An employer is obligated to designate leave as CTFMLA when it has sufficient information that the leave is being taken for a qualifying reason under the Act. An employee cannot decline having the CTFMLA applied to their leave if they are out for an FMLA-qualifying reason.

 

Q37. Can my employer retroactively designate leave as CTFMLA leave?

Yes, an employer who fails to timely designate leave as CTFMLA leave may retroactively do so, so long as retroactive designation of leave does not cause harm or injury to the employee. An employee might be harmed, for example, where he or she could have arranged for an alternate leave schedule had the employer designated the leave in a timely manner.  If an employee is harmed by an employer’s failure to timely designate the employee’s leave, then the employer may be liable for interference under the CTFMLA.

 

Q38. Can employers require employees to submit a fitness-for-duty certification before returning to work after being absent due to a serious health condition?

Yes. If the employee has been absent due to the employee’s own serious health condition, they may be required to submit a certification/simple statement from their health care provider that they are able to return to work.

 

Q39. When must an employer provide notice of its fitness-for-duty certification requirements?

An employer must provide notice to employees of any fitness-for-duty certification requirements in the Designation Notice. See “Employer Notice Requirements” section below. A sample Designation Notice can be found on the Labor Department’s website.

 

Q40. What happens if I do not submit a requested medical or fitness-for-duty certification?

The employer can deny CTFMLA leave protection if an employee fails to timely submit a complete and sufficient medical certification. If an employee fails to submit a fitness-for-duty certification, the employer may delay job restoration until the employee provides the certification. If the employee never provides the certification, or a new medical certification for a serious health condition for the continuation of leave, they may be denied reinstatement under the CTFMLA.

 

 

Job Restoration

Q41. What are my rights when I return from CTFMLA leave?

Upon return from CTFMLA leave (whether after a continuous leave or an instance of intermittent leave), your employer must return you to the same job you had when leave began. Employees are entitled to such reinstatement even if the employee has been replaced or their position has been restructured to accommodate the employee’s absence.

If the original position is not available, employers must restore employees to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment if such position is available.

Example
Felix requested 9 weeks of CTFMLA leave for depression and anxiety. He currently works third shift (11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) as a nurse in a residential care facility. He is eligible for a shift differential of $3.00/hour for working third shift. Upon returning from leave, Felix’s employer must restore him to his third shift position, including the shift differential.

 

Q42. Can my employer move me to a different job when I return from CTFMLA leave?

Generally, no. However, if an employee is medically unable to perform their original job upon return from CTFMLA leave, the employer must transfer the employee to work suitable to their physical condition, if such work is available, which many include part-time work, or work at a lower rate of pay. An employer may request certification from the employee’s health care provider that the employee is physically unable to resume work in the employee’s original position, but may perform other work.

In addition, the employer may also have obligations to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”).

 

Q43. What if, after transfer to other suitable work, I later regain the ability to perform my original job? Is my employer required to reinstate me to my original job?

No, it is not required by the CTFMLA.

 

Q44. Can my employer make me requalify for benefits upon my return from leave?

No, employees must be restored to all benefits they were enrolled in at the time their leave began, subject to any changes in benefits that took place during the period of CTFMLA leave affecting the entire workforce.

Note: Under the federal FMLA, covered employers are required to maintain an employee's coverage under any group health plan on the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period. Employers who are covered under both the federal FMLA and the CTFMLA must follow the federal requirements for maintaining health benefits. 

 

Q45. Will I continue to accrue vacation or sick leave while I am out on CTFMLA leave?

Employees are entitled to accrue any benefits or seniority during unpaid CTFMLA leave if the employer’s policy provides that employees on other types of unpaid leave are entitled to such accrual of benefits or seniority. Benefits accrued at the time leave began (e.g., paid vacation, sick or personal leave to the extent not substituted for CTFMLA leave) must be available to an employee upon return from leave.

 

Q46. Under what circumstances can my employer delay my return to work date?

An employer may delay an employee’s return to work if the employee fails to provide a fitness-for-duty certification required by the employer, but only if the employer provided timely notice requiring the certification.

 

Q47. What if I receive information that one of my employees will not be coming back to work after CTFMLA leave? If they don’t return, or tell us they’re not returning, what are the employee’s job restoration rights?

If an employee gives unequivocal notice of the intent not to return to work after CTFMLA leave has ended, the employer is no longer required to return the employee to work, unless an employee indicates that they may be unable to return to work but expresses a continuing desire to do so.

 

Q48. What if I can return to work earlier than anticipated?

An employer cannot require an employee to take more CTFMLA leave than necessary. Once the employee provides notice of the intent to return to work (and any fitness-for-duty certification, if required), the employer must return the employee to work within 2 business days, unless it is physically impossible to do so.

 

Q49. What if my position is eliminated while I am on CTFMLA leave?

An employer may deny the employee’s return to work if the employer had a legitimate business reason to do so that is not related to the CTFMLA. For example, if the employee is laid off or their position eliminated while on leave due to a reduction in force.

 

 

Employee Notice Requirements

Q50. What and when do I need to tell my employer if I plan to take CTFMLA leave?

Employees must provide 30-days advance notice of the need to take CTFMLA leave if they know of the need for leave and such notice is practical. If they do not know of the need for leave more than 30 days in advance, the employee must provide notice as soon as practical – generally, 1 to 2 business days after the employee knows of the need for leave. Examples of foreseeable leave might be when leave is requested based on an expected birth or a scheduled surgery for a serious health condition.

This notice can be provided in person or by telephone, email, fax, text message or other electronic means. 

 

Q51. Do I have to mention the CTFMLA or say “FMLA” when requesting leave?

When an employee seeks leave for a CTFMLA-qualifying reason for the first time, the employee need not expressly ask for CTFMLA leave but must give the employer enough information to figure out that there may be a qualifying serious health condition or other qualifying reason. If the employer does not have enough information about the reason for an employee’s use of leave, the employer must ask for additional information to determine whether the leave is potentially CTFMLA-qualifying.

When an employee has already been granted CTFMLA-protected leave, the employee must specifically reference the CTFMLA leave when calling or reporting out for that leave.

 

Q52. Is an employee required to follow an employer’s normal call-in procedures when taking CTFMLA leave?

Yes, employees must follow the employer’s policy or practice when calling out. If circumstances prevent following the employer’s notice requirements, the employee must provide notice as soon as is practical.

 

Q53. What are the consequences of failing to provide the 30-day notice of foreseeable leave?

If an employee fails to give 30 days’ notice for foreseeable leave with no reasonable excuse for the delay, the employer may delay the CTFMLA leave until 30 days after the date the employee provides notice to the employer of the need for CTFMLA leave.

 

 

Employer Notice Requirements

Q54. Are employers required to tell their employees of the existence of the CTFMLA and the employee’s right to take CTFMLA leave?

Yes, upon hire, CTFMLA-covered employers are required to provide employees with a general notice explaining CTFMLA entitlements, employee obligations, and the procedures of filing complaints of alleged violations of the Act with the Labor Department. If the employer provides any written guidance to employees concerning employee benefits or leave rights, such as an employee handbook or other written guidance, the employer should include the information within those documents. Employers may distribute the general notice electronically.

 

Q55. How soon after an employee provides notice of the need for leave must an employer determine whether someone is eligible for CTFMLA leave?

Generally, an employer is required to notify an employee in writing of their eligibility to take CTFMLA leave (and, if not, at least one reason why the employee is ineligible) within 5 business days of the employee’s request or of learning that an employee’s leave may be for a CTFMLA-qualifying reason. A sample combined Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities is available on the Labor Department’s website.

 

Q56. Does an employer have to provide employees with information regarding their specific rights and responsibilities under the CTFMLA?

Yes. CTFMLA-covered employers must provide employees with written notices of eligibility and rights and responsibilities detailing the specific expectations and obligations of the employee while on leave, and any consequences of a failure to meet these obligations. An employer must provide the notices within a reasonable time after notice of the need for leave is given by the employee, but no later than 5 business days where feasible.  A sample combined Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities is available on the Labor Department’s website.

 

Q57. How soon after an employee provides notice of the need for leave must an employer notify an employee that the leave will be approved and counted as CTFMLA leave?

An employer must notify an employee in writing whether leave will be designated as approved or unapproved CTFMLA leave within 5 business days once they have enough information to make that determination, absent extenuating circumstances. This designation notice must also state whether paid leave will be substituted for unpaid CTFMLA leave, whether the employer will require the employee to provide a fitness-for-duty certification to return to work, and the number of hours, days or weeks that will be counted against the employee’s CTFMLA leave entitlement, if known. If an employer determines that the leave is not CTFMLA-qualifying, the employer shall notify the employee of that determination in writing and state the reason for that determination.

A sample Designation Notice is available on the Labor Department’s website.

 

 

Military Provisions

Q58. Under what circumstances can I take leave related to a family member’s military service?

There are two provisions of the CTFMLA that allow employees to take leave to address needs related to a family member’s military service: Qualifying Exigency Leave, and Military Caregiver Leave. 

A. Qualifying Exigency Leave

Eligible employees may use up to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period to address qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in the Armed Forces.

B. Military Caregiver Leave

Eligible employees may take up to 26 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the covered servicemember.

 

Q59. What is a “call to active duty” in the “Armed Forces” for purposes of the CTFMLA?

A “call to active duty” for purposes of leave taken because of a qualifying exigency refers to a call to active duty under Titles 10 and 32 of the United States Code.

The “Armed Forces” means the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force and any reserve component thereof, including the Connecticut National Guard.

 

Q60. What is a “qualifying exigency?”

“Qualifying exigency” leave allows eligible employees to take CTFMLA leave to attend to a broad list of common issues that arise when a covered servicemember is deployed, such as leave to address short-notice deployment, military events and related activities, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, covered servicemember’s rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities and additional activities agreed to by the employee and employer.

For more information about qualifying exigencies, see the Department’s CTFMLA In-Depth FAQs (coming soon).

 

Q61. What type of notice must I provide to my employer when taking CTFMLA leave because of a qualifying exigency?

An employee must provide notice of the need for qualifying exigency leave as soon as practicable, regardless of how far in advance such leave is foreseeable – generally, within 1 or 2 business days. When the need for leave is unforeseeable, an employee must comply with an employer’s normal call-in procedures absent unusual circumstances.

An employee does not need to specifically assert his or her rights under the CTFMLA, or even mention the CTFMLA, when providing notice. The employee must provide sufficient information to make the employer aware of the need for CTFMLA leave and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.

 

Q62. Who is a “covered servicemember” for purposes of military caregiver leave?

A “covered servicemember” is a current member of the Armed Forces who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is on the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty.

 

Q63. What is a “serious injury or illness?”

A serious injury or illness is one that was incurred by a covered servicemember in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the servicemember medically unfit to perform the duties of their office, grade, rank, or rating. A serious injury or illness also includes injuries or illnesses that existed before the covered servicemembers’ active duty that were aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty.

 

Q64. Who is considered “next of kin of a covered servicemember” for purposes of military caregiver leave?

“Next of kin of a covered servicemember” means the covered servicemembers’ nearest blood relative, other than the covered servicemember’s spouse, parent, son or daughter, in the following order of priority:

  • the covered servicemember has specifically designated in writing (a) a blood relative as their nearest blood relative or (b) another individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family member for purposes of military caregiver leave,
  • blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the covered servicemember by court decree or statutory provisions,
  • brothers and sisters,
  • grandparents,
  • aunts and uncles, and
  • first cousins.

 

Q65. How much leave may I take to care for a covered servicemember?

An eligible employee is entitled to take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a “single 12-month period” to care for a seriously injured or ill covered servicemember. The “single 12-month period” begins on the first day the eligible employee takes military caregiver leave and ends 12 months after that date, regardless of the method used by the employer to determine the employee’s 12 workweeks of leave entitlement for other CTFMLA-qualifying reasons.

 

Q66. May I take CTFMLA leave to both care for a covered servicemember and for another CTFMLA qualifying reason during a single 12-month period?

Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a combined total of 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave and leave for any other CTFMLA-qualifying reason in this single 12-month period; however, the employee may not take more than 12 workweeks of leave for any other CTFMLA-qualifying reason during this period. For example, in the single 12-month period an employee could take 12 weeks of CTFMLA leave to care for a newborn child and 14 weeks of military caregiver leave, but could not take 16 weeks of leave to care for a newborn child and 10 weeks of military caregiver leave.

 

 

Miscellaneous

Q67. An employer learns that their employee who is out on CTFMLA leave has been working for another company while on leave. What can they do?

If the employer has a policy that prohibits employees from working a second job, they may follow the policy. If the employer does not have a policy prohibiting the employee from having a second job, then the second job must be consistent with the medical certification.

 

Q68. Can my CTFMLA leave be counted against me for my bonus?

An employer may deny a bonus that is based upon achieving a goal, such as hours worked, products sold or perfect attendance, to an employee who takes CTFMLA leave (and thus does not achieve the goal) as long as it treats employees taking CTFMLA leave the same as employees taking non-CTFMLA leave. For example, if an employer does not deny a perfect attendance bonus to employees using vacation leave, the employer may not deny the bonus to an employee who used vacation leave for a CTFMLA-qualifying reason.

 

Q69. My medical condition limits me to a 40-hour workweek, but my employer has assigned me to work 8 hours of overtime in a week. Can I take CTFMLA leave for the overtime?

Yes. Employees with proper medical certifications may use CTFMLA leave for the required overtime hours.

While an employer may count mandatory overtime hours that an employee does not work due to a CTFMLA-qualifying reason against an employee’s CTFMLA leave entitlement, it may not count voluntary overtime hours against the entitlement.

 

 

Prohibited Acts

Q70. What happens if my employer denies my CTFMLA leave request, or I am mistreated for taking CTFMLA leave?

The CTFMLA prohibits employers from:

  • Interfering with, restraining, or denying the exercise of any rights provided by the Act. Examples include, but are not limited to, improperly refusing to authorize CTFMLA leave or discouraging employees from using such leave.
  • Denying an employee’s right to use up to 2 weeks of accumulated sick leave to care for a family member or for the birth or adoption of the employee’s son or daughter.
  • Disciplining, discharging, discriminating, or retaliating against any individual for opposing or complaining about any unlawful practice, or because of involvement in any proceeding related to the CTFMLA. Examples include, but are not limited to, failing to provide the same benefits to employees on CTFMLA leave as those provided to similarly-situated employees on other similar leaves, using CTFMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions, or disciplinary actions, or counting CTFMLA leave under an employer’s attendance policy.

 

 

Filing a Complaint

Q71. Who do I contact if I need additional information about the CTFMLA?

If you have questions, or you think your rights under the CTFMLA may have been violated, you can contact the Legal Division of the Connecticut Department of Labor at at (860) 263-6400 or DOL.CTFMLA@ct.gov.

 

Q72. How do I file a CTFMLA complaint?

If you believe that your CTFMLA rights have been violated, you can either file a complaint directly in Superior Court or with the Connecticut Department of Labor. 

To file a CTFMLA complaint with the Connecticut Department of Labor for an alleged violation that occurred on or after January 1, 2022, you should file a complaint online through the Labor Department’s Leave Complaint and Appeal Portal. Note: you have 180 days to file a complaint with Department of Labor from the date of the alleged violation unless you can demonstrate good cause for the delay.