Effective October 1, 2010, Connecticut employers must provide up to 12 days of paid or unpaid leave to employees to address a family violence issue.
Seek medical care for physical injuries or disabilities
Seek psychological care of counseling for psychological injuries
Obtain services from an organization on behalf of the victim, including a woman’s shelter or similar non-profit agency
Relocate to a new home
Participate in a criminal or civil court case related to the family violence
The domestic violence leave law applies to employers with three or more employees. State law already allowed victims of certain crimes time off to attend court proceedings and to assist police in an investigation. However, this law provides additional leave to relocate, and seek medical care or counseling.
Employers should be aware of a number of laws that were passed in the 2008 Connecticut legislative session.
The State General Assembly passed bills regarding the regulation of professional service organizations, and House Bill 5113, which addresses employee misclassification.
In May, the Connecticut House passed a bill that reinstates the law permitting 15 year olds to work in grocery stores as baggers, stockers and cashiers. Governor M. Jodi Rell is expected to sign the bill soon. The bill, which amends Connecticut Statute 21-23 will become immediately effective.
A $1.7 million employment grant was awarded to the state of Missouri to provide training assistance for workers who lost their jobs as a result of several recent mass layoffs. The mass layoffs included:
- Chrysler LLC in Fenton, Missouri
- Integram St. Louis Seating in Pacific, Missouri
- Yushin USA Ltd. in Kirksville, Missouri
“This $1.7 million grant will provide these Missourians with employment services to help in starting a new career in a growing industry,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
All workers impacted by these layoffs have been certified for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). TAA is a federal program that can provide additional benefits, beyond the normal unemployment insurance payments, to workers affected by mass layoffs or plant closures. Under TAA, workers can receive unemployment benefits for a year or more. In addition, TAA offers workers training in new skills to help them secure jobs in a different market sector, including tuition and benefits. In some cases, laid-off workers who earn less at their new job qualify for partial payments through TAA for up to 18 additional months, even while they are working.
The Missouri training grant is awarded to the Missouri Division of Workforce Development and will provide workers with services not covered under the TAA program. The grant will be used to provide a menu of services to workers, including assessment, career counseling and case management. Services and benefits already available to these workers under TAA may include training, job search allowances, relocation allowances and a health coverage tax credit, among others.
This grant benefits an area that has been hard-hit in recent months by various layoffs and plant closures. On Nov. 2, 2007, Chrysler LLC announced that it would be eliminating the second shift at its Fenton, Mo., plant, affecting approximately 1,078 workers.
This change triggered a domino-effect as Chrysler’s suppliers responded to changing market conditions.
On the heels of that announcement, Chrysler suppliers Integram St. Louis Seating announced that they would lay off 326 workers. Then Yushin USA Ltd. announced that they would be laying off about 100 workers.
Of the total announced, $958,608 will be released initially. Additional funding up to $1.7 million will be made available as the state demonstrates a continued need to serve workers affected by these layoffs.
On the same day, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a $250,000 Regional Innovation Grant to assist the state of Connecticut in developing regional talent development strategies. These plans will specifically focus on increasing the technical and engineering skills of Connecticut workers. The project covers the eastern Connecticut region, as well as Worcester County in Massachusetts and Washington County in Rhode Island.
“Eastern Connecticut is working across state boundaries to ensure area workers have opportunities to build the kinds of technical skills that are in demand,” said acting Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Brent R. Orrell. “The $250,000 this grant provides will help bring together business and education leaders to address skills shortages and establish plans for long-term talent development.”
The grant goes to the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board. It will be implemented by the newly formed Engineering and Technical Skills Task Force.
Members of the Skills Task Force will collaborate with area educational partners to analyze the region’s capacity to offer engineering and technical skills training programs and issue recommendations to address existing and emerging skills gaps.
Normally, when a grant such as this identifies employer needs and a plan to train workers, it is followed by a larger training grant, such as the one in Missouri.
The project also will support plans to increase the number of engineering degree programs, and strengthen connections between employers and potential workers through internship and apprenticeship programs.
Thanks to recent federal legislation, relatives of soldiers who are going away to active duty may now take more than 6 months of unpaid leave to help with family duties.
The time may be taken either to care for an injured soldier or to care for a child or sick member of the family.
The legislation is the NDAA, or National Defense Authorization Act of 2008. It passed January 28, 2008, and is effective immediately. The U.S. Department of Labor is making an effort to complete regulations stemming from this bill, and information will be released as it becomes available.
In the meantime, the Labor Department expects employers to make what it calls a “good faith effort” to comply.
The new Act essentially extends the time available through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to this qualifying group of employees to 26 weeks, rather than the usual 12 weeks. Unpaid leave under the FMLA is job-protected.
The expanded leave is largely for spouses, parents, sons or daughters of soldiers. Under some conditions however, even aunts, uncles and cousins may qualify to take the extended leave. That’s because the law permits a wounded soldier’s “next of kin” to take time off to care for him. Presumably, that is true even if the “next of kin” is a second or third cousin.
Spouses, daughters, parents, and sons may take up to 26 weeks if a family member is called up to active duty or will be deployed shortly. The expanded leave is likely to be used most by spouses of members of the Reserve or National Guard.
Under regular FMLA guidelines, qualifying workers can take the leave time to care for a sick child, parent, or spouse, or to help with a newborn, a newly adopted child, or a newly added foster child. The new regulations allow employees to take time to care for healthy children who would otherwise be cared for by the soldier who has been called up for active duty. It may still be used to care for a sick parent or child.
Families of injured soldiers were allowed to start taking the leave on January 28, 2008.
The regulations as they now stand allow employers to count paid leave as part of the 13 weeks of FMLA leave. Presumably, this rule will be the same for the 26 weeks of leave for military families.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was a major change for workers. For the first time, the law required employers to provide an employee with leave when he or she suffered from serious health problems. FMLA leave is unpaid, but job protected, meaning the worker is guaranteed the same or a similar job when he or she returns.
The only expansion of the law since its original passage is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2008, which, among other things, increases leave time for relatives of military personnel on active duty. The U.S. Department of Labor is scrambling to complete regulations based on the NDAA, and few details are available yet.
The FMLA provides workers with a guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave yearly. The time can be used if the employee is seriously ill. Workers can also use it to care for a member of the immediate family with an illness. By “immediate family” the law refers to spouses, children or parents, but not grandparents, in-laws, or siblings.
The law is meant to allow employees to care for a newborn child, a new foster child under 18 or a newly adopted child, thus its common designation as “maternity leave” or “paternity leave.”
Because the leave is job protected, workers must be given the same or a similar job when they return to work. If it is impossible to reinstate the worker in the original job, then it must be one with similar pay, conditions, duties, and benefits.
Employers are permitted, under some conditions, to count paid leave time — sick time or Paid Time Off (PTO) — against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave. But the employee must be notified in writing before the leave time begins.
The FMLA law applies to any company with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. Some states have expanded that to include smaller firms. And some states have enlarged the coverage to include care for other relatives besides members of the immediate family. It remains to be seen if these same states will adopt NDAA for smaller companies.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently presented awards to outstanding worker training programs throughout the country in five key areas. These categories include:
Helping young people who are out of school
Collaborating with industry to create a workforce investment program
Leveraging partnerships between employers, educators and economic development agencies
Creating a highly-trained 21st century workforce
Training workers with special needs
This year’s big winners include groups from Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. Runners-up for the awards include agencies and companies from Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, New York, Louisiana and Minnesota.
The Recognition of Excellence awards go to the top talent development programs nationwide. This week, Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily Stover DeRocco presented the awards during the Workforce Innovations Conference. Stover DeRocco heads the department’s division of Employment and Training. This is the fourth consecutive year the awards have been used to recognize outstanding training programs in state and local government, private business, education and economic development programs. Each award represents a collaboration between two or more of those key players.
“Our honorees have shown that they are innovative leaders in providing workers with the opportunities and tools to help them compete in today’s global economy,” said DeRocco. “Their outstanding work serves as a model for others to learn from and apply to their own regional economic and talent development strategies.”
The first category is “Educating America’s 21st Century Workforce”, recognizing the top program for providing innovative and effective strategies to prepare workers for jobs requiring better skills. The winner is the Alpena Community College of Alpena, Michigan. Honorable Mentions in this category include the Junior College District of Kansas City, Missouri and the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Beaverton, Oregon.
The award for “Building an Industry/Business-Driven Workforce Investment System” goes to the program that best responds to an industry need while preparing workers for continued job growth. This award goes to Capital Workforce Partners, of Hartford Connecticut. Honorable mentions in this category include the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth’s Bureau of Workforce Programs statewide. An Honorable Mention also went to the Gulf Coast Workforce Board: the WorkSource in the Gulf Coast Region of Texas.
The third category recognizes the value of collaborations between employers, educators and economic development leaders. The e3 Partnership award goes to Eastern Kentucky C.E. P. Inc. of Hazard, Kentucky. The runner up in this category is the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The fourth category is “Recognizing the Demographics of the Workforce”. This award highlights agencies or organizations that target workers with special needs. Winners in this category provide services to workers with limited English skills, to migrant farm workers, and those who are homeless as well as others. The top award in this category goes to Experience Works, Inc. of Arlington Virginia. Honorable mentions go to the Shoreline Community College in Shoreline Washington and the Center for Employment Opportunities in New York, N.Y.
The final category is “Serving Out-of-School Youth”. Winners in this category demonstrate innovative techniques in collaborating with educators, businesses, industry and other essential partners to train, educate and hire young people who are out of school. The award goes to Workforce Connections, Inc. of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Other notable programs in this category include the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the River Paris WIA Program in Convent, Louisiana.
All of the awards were presented at a gala ceremony during the Workforce Innovations Conference, an annual event that provides an opportunity for networking on workforce issues between stakeholders in the public and private sectors.