Photo of Senator Cohen.

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Cohen Voices Support For Pro-Business, Pro-Employee Legislation

Today, State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) joined her colleagues in the House and Senate in support of two business-friendly, employee-friendly bills.

PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

If enacted, Senate Bill No. 1, “AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE,” will ensure employees will not have to choose between their health, family and receiving a paycheck.

“It is vital that we provide an environment where our employees feel protected and valued and not fearful of losing their job in order to care for themselves or a loved one,” said Sen. Cohen. “As a business owner, I want to retain the team members that I’ve taken the time to get to know and train, however, the prospect of me providing this type of leave has been dim from a fiscal standpoint. Earned paid leave enables small businesses like mine to provide time off. We are talking about taking care of humankind and just doing the right thing—everyone can get behind that.”

The proposed legislation would establish the Paid Family and Medical Leave Program and Paid Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund. As part of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Program, the Labor Department will offer up to 12 workweeks of family and medical leave compensation to employees with insurance for any 12-month period.

As part of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund, employees can contribute to the Labor Department for the aforementioned trust fund on or before July 1, 2020. Employees will get compensated by the Labor Department on and after July 1, 2021.

Under the proposed legislation, paid family and medical leave can be taken for the following reasons:

  • The birth of a child.
  • Placing a child in foster care, adopting a child or putting a child up for adoption.
  • Caring for a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, any other blood-related family or someone whose relationship is consistent with that of a family member.
  • The employees own serious health condition, which requires said employee to be hospitalized, in hospice care, a nursing home, a residential medical care facility or continue outpatient treatment.
  • Saving or donating an organ or bone marrow.
  • Any qualifying urgent need or demand determined by the United States Secretary of Labor, like a blood-related family member reporting to active duty in the armed forces.

Providing employees with paid family and medical leave has been linked to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention. The following states have some form of paid leave for familial and medical reasons: California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, the state of Washington, Washington D.C, Wisconsin and Hawaii.

“Connecticut can seize the opportunity to be a leader here and everyone benefits,” said Sen. Cohen. “We become a people-friendly, business-friendly state that talent can flock to. This legislation will help to make Connecticut an attractive destination for business and employees.”

BREASTFEEDING IN THE WORKPLACE

photo of Senator Cohen.

If enacted, House Bill 7043, “AN ACT CONCERNING BREASTFEEDING IN THE WORKPLACE, will require employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a lactation room in the workplace that is private, has a refrigerator nearby or one included inside of the lactation room, include access to an electrical outlet and provide breastfeeding support for up to three years.

Sen. Cohen said she has experienced both as a small business owner and someone who has worked in corporate spaces the challenges of finding areas to express breast milk. She said this legislation will benefit female employees by mitigating those challenges and will in turn also positively impact employee retention for businesses.

“As somebody who experienced going back to a corporate work environment and finding it very difficult to find the time and the space to express breastmilk, I think this legislation is easily implemented, reasonable and quite frankly necessary for nursing mothers,” said Sen. Cohen. “It is also important to recognize this legislation’s ability to bolster employee retention.”

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