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Why Should a Connecticut Employer Offer Short Term Disability (STD) Coverage After CT Paid Family & Medical Leave Goes into Effect?

Connecticut Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) came into effect on January 1, 2022.

Whether it’s through the State-run plan or an approved private PFML plan, all Connecticut employees now receive an income benefit when taking time off to care for a family member or for their own personal disability leave. This law has generated a lot of buzz with employers across the state and left them with a lot to consider between updating policies, training staff, and how to best handle leave management.

One of the top questions we are hearing right now is:

“Since the CT PFML plan will offer partial income replacement for an employee’s medical disability leave, why would a Connecticut employer continue to offer their Short-Term Disability (STD) policy?”

Here are three primary reasons to continue offering employees an STD policy to supplement the CT PFML benefit:

  1. Preserve the current weekly income benefit.

    • The maximum weekly CT PFML benefit started at $780 effective January 2022 and is slated to rise in tandem with the state's minimum wage.
    • Depending on the level of coverage offered by your organization's currennt policy, this amount may not be sufficient.If, for example, an employer’s current STD plan pays a $1500 maximum weekly benefit, CT PFML alone will not match the current level of income replacement for an employee’s medical disability.
    • However, if the employer keeps their STD policy in place and CT PFML pays $780 to an eligible employee, the STD policy could then pay an ADDITIONAL or SUPPLEMENTAL $720 in order to keep said employee “whole” relative to the baseline level of $1500 in weekly income replacement.
  2. Preserve the current benefit duration.

    • CT PFML offers income replacement for up to twelve (12) weeks, while employer STD plans can offer income replacement for up to 26 weeks.
    • If an employer wants its employees to have more than 12 weeks of partial income replacement for personal disability leave, they will need to keep their STD policy in place to continue the income replacement beyond 12 weeks.
    • If the STD plan has a 26-week benefit duration, CT PFML would pay for the first 12 weeks, and the STD plan would pay for the remaining 14 weeks.
  3. Preserve a benefit for the employee’s own disability leave.

    • Employees may file a CT PFML claim when taking time off to care for a family member. But they only get one 12-week benefit per year, in total, regardless of the reason for the leave.
    • If an employee exhausts their CT PFML benefit to care for a sick family member, and there is no STD policy in place, the employee will have no income replacement if they have to take time off for their own personal disability (injury or illness).
    • Keeping the STD policy in place ensures income replacement for an employee’s own disability leave.

Here's an Example of Coordination Between CT PFML & STD

STD Plan: No elimination period; $1500 maximum weekly benefit; 26-week benefit duration

CT PFML STD Insurance Total max benefit
Weeks 1-12 $780 per week (equals max weekly benefit) $720 per week (supplements CT PFML) $1500 per week (equals the STD policy max weekly benefit)
Weeks 13 - 16 $0 (CT PFML max duration is 12 weeks) $1500 per week (STD Pays full max; CT PFML has been exhausted) $1500 (STD plan max benefit)

Download our CT PFML InfoBrief here.

Looking for more information on absence management? Check out our downloadable Leave of Absence Toolkit.