By Michael Bellmore

HAMDEN–Surrounded by the many businesses that fill the Hamden Plaza, U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, gathered alongside workers and activists to bring attention to Connecticut’s leading role in worker protection programs, and the work that still needs to be done.

Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said her commission worked on the family medical leave act that passed in the state decades ago, which became a model for its federal equivalent.

“Connecticut is at the forefront of this whole conversation about how do you build on programs that promote family friendly workplace policies,” Younger said.

The law allows people to take leave for the birth of a child or to care for a sick family member. A worker can take up to 16 weeks of leave and be protected under the law. Unfortunately for many, that leave is unpaid.

DeLauro said the conference was about moving forward and trying to make that law work better for those who need it.

“The law has been so successful, over 100 million people have taken advantage of it,” DeLauro said.

“It’s unpaid at the moment. … Today, 8 out of 10 cannot avail themselves of the Family Medical Leave Act because they just can’t afford to be out of work for a period of time without getting paid.”

Younger said her commission is taking a leading role in trying to change that.

Original Article