BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — State Sen. Marilyn Moore led a heartfelt 90-minute discussion in the Senate chamber Tuesday on the need for a paid family and medical leave policy in Connecticut before the bill was tabled due to a lack of Republican support.
Moore, a Democrat who represents Bridgeport, Monroe and Trumbull, debated the merits of Senate Bill 1, “An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave.”
She shared her own personal story on the floor of the Senate Chamber:
About 10 years ago, my mom began experiencing health problems. Some were related to her being elderly. My mom had one bout of congestive heart failure and needed 24-hour personal care.
As our parents age, we have a responsibility to care for them just as they cared for us throughout our lives. My mom had told us many times that we could not, better not, place her in a nursing home. She raised six children on her own since I was 12. Her request seemed reasonable and even logical, but all of my sisters and my brother had jobs. When she asked me why I couldn’t take care of her I explained I had to work as I had a mortgage and other financial responsibilities. Even though her doctor explained it would be short term, none of us could afford to take unpaid time off.
My mom did not understand that we could not take a leave from our jobs and it created stress and uncomfortable conversations. We all felt that we were letting our mother down.
Fortunately, my younger sister decided to leave her job as an HIV counselor for the City of Bridgeport. She used up her vacation and sick leave and in the end was let go. By the grace of God and my sister’s unending commitment to my mom, we were able to keep my mom at home and in 40 days or so she will celebrate her 102nd birthday.
I share this story because my sister sacrificed her career and her job was eliminated when she took the leave. We were fortunate, but how many other families will face this same problem and without paid family medical leave not be there to support their loved ones?
If paid family medical leave were available, my sisters and brothers could have each taken time off to share the responsibilities that all of us will face as our parents age.
With no Republican support for the measure, the bill was tabled. Though the bill is now dead for the 2017 legislative session, Senate Bill 1 offered:
- Eight weeks of paid family and medical leave in 2020; 10 weeks in 2022; and 12 weeks in 2024
- Employees are eligible for paid FMLA immediately upon employment, contingent on certain past wage earnings
- Employees are eligible for job protection after six months of employment and 500 hours of work at that employer
- Payroll deduction must be less than one-half of 1 percent, to be paid for by the employee
- Paid FMLA varies depending on weekly pay: it would pay 100 percent first $385; 80 percent to $769; and 66 percent over $770