The Day – Paid depart will assist revive the state’s economic system

COVID-19 has raised awareness of the need for paid family vacation and medical leave. Nobody wants to encourage key workers to work sick with COVID-19 or any other infectious disease.

Even those who care for a loved one with COVID-19, especially poorly paid workers, have to take time off but still have to pay the bills. The demand for a national paid leave policy is expected to increase.

In Connecticut, an April 2019 poll before the COVID-19 crisis found that 88% of voters were in favor of paid family leave and 82% of people were in favor of paid leave, even though they knew the program would be fully employee-funded. Unfortunately, some in Connecticut are calling for the state’s new paid vacation policy to be postponed or even repealed. However, paid vacation is key to stabilizing and revitalizing the Connecticut economy.

Workers hardest hit by COVID-19, namely poorly paid basic workers in healthcare, childcare and service industries, are most likely to need paid vacation to recover from their own illness or to take care of family members. A recent report commissioned by several Connecticut community foundations showed the disproportionately negative effects of COVID-19 on women, especially women of skin color. This report shows that at the national level, four times more women than men left the workforce during the pandemic. Connecticut alone lost 400,000 jobs in 2020, and for the first time in Connecticut history, women outperformed men on jobless claims and women of skin color made up more than one in three initial and ongoing jobless claims.

The Connecticut Paid Vacation Program, signed in 2019, will stimulate the Connecticut economy by maintaining income, purchasing power, and stabilizing tax revenues. Since the employer does not have to pay the person on leave, he can hire a temporary worker to fill out and the worker on leave has a job to which he can return if he is able to. This guideline is especially helpful for small employers who couldn’t afford to offer paid vacation. In countries that have introduced paid leave, workers who take paid leave are more likely to return to work and stay with the workforce. And Connecticut needs these workers to get back.

A recent McKinsey & Co. review of Connecticut workforce development programs found that by 2025, more workers will reach retirement age than they will enter their years of work, and more than a third of the Connecticut workforce will be 55 or older. Even before the pandemic, the Connecticut economy was increasingly reliant on part-time work and the gig economy. Now these workers too are entitled to paid leave when they need it.

Many advocates of paid family leave, rather than having the cost of the paid leave trust fund solely borne by workers, would prefer the federal or state government to share some of the cost, as it does in most other developed countries and some countries is other states. However, the newly introduced CT Paid Leave program, which is self-financed by the employees, is currently running.

Employee deductions began in January 2021, and over the next year, both full-time and part-time workers in large and small businesses can take up to 12 weeks of paid vacation for their own serious illness or care for a family member. The cost to employees is half of 1% less than a weekly median latte in a cafe for those earning a minimum wage.

For the first time, low-paying Connecticut workers can take paid medical or family vacations, keep paying their bills, and have a job to return to when they recover. By continuing to implement CT Paid Leave, Connecticut is joining other states to build a more stable, flexible, and productive workforce.

Carol J. Williams is co-chair of the Public Policy Task Force for Women and Girls’ Funds, established by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.

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