CT Paid Leave: A Resource for Family Caregivers

Connecticut Paid Leave, the program that provides income-replacement benefits for workers when they need to take time off for family or health concerns, is an important resource to ensure that no one ever has to neglect caring for their health – or being there for those they love – simply because they can’t afford to forgo their paycheck.

By Jessica Vargas

One of the top reasons that workers in Connecticut have used the CT Paid Leave program over the past two years has been for caregiver leave. Caregiver leave is when a worker takes time away from work to care for a family member experiencing a serious health condition. That can entail bringing the family member to doctor’s appointments or treatments, helping them with the tasks of daily living, or simply being there to provide comfort and companionship while they recover from or receive treatment for that serious health condition. Importantly, Connecticut has an expansive definition of family which includes not just those immediate family relationships like parents, spouses, and children, but also extended family – grandparents, siblings, stepparents or stepsiblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. It also includes those individuals who may be related to the worker by affinity – meaning there may not be a legal or blood relationship, but if the worker has a close personal relationship that is like one of the family relationships mentioned, they can take the time they need to care for that individual. For example, perhaps there is an elderly neighbor or member of their church that the worker helps with rides to and from doctor’s appointments. This would be considered an affinity relationship under CT Paid Leave and Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides job-protected leave for caregivers.

Another important aspect of the CT Paid Leave program is that the person for whom the employee provides care does not need to live in Connecticut or in the country. In the case that the worker’s family member lives outside of the country, the worker simply would have the family member’s healthcare provider fill out CT Paid Leave’s medical certification form in their native language – there is no need to have the document translated. When the worker returns that document to CT Paid Leave as part of their application, the CT Paid Leave Authority will handle the translation.

Under CT Paid Leave and CT FMLA, up to 12 weeks are available for caregiver leave in a 12-month period. The amount of leave that can be approved is ultimately based on the medical necessity specified by the healthcare provider. The leave can be taken continuously, intermittently, or on a reduced schedule basis. For example, in the case of taking a family member for treatment or doctor’s appointments, the worker may use their leave time intermittently, taking just the time they need to accompany the family member to those appointments. In the case of a serious ongoing illness, the worker may elect to take continuous leave, being out of work for several weeks to help a family member.

Being there for our family in times of need is one of the most important things we can do. CT Paid Leave exists to ensure that the barrier of lost income is removed during crises or stress, allowing workers to be with their loved ones to help them heal, recover, or simply to be with them during their final days.

To learn more about CT Paid Leave or to start an application, visit www.ctpaidleave.org.

This article was written by Jessica Vargas, CT Paid Leave Authority’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.