New Hampshire passes Paid Family Leave: What employers need to know now
After weeks of “will they or won’t they” speculation, New Hampshire has enacted New Hampshire House Bill 2, which established the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan. It just so happens that this is a unique law that doesn’t really mirror any existing paid family and medical leave (PFML) laws we have seen to date, and we expect to spend time in the coming weeks doing further internal review and discussing possible impacts of the new law so that we can provide a more nuanced view for employers, insurers, and third-party administrators. In the meantime, here’s a high-level overview of the program.
The Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan:
- Provides state-administered family and medical leave benefits to New Hampshire state employees;
- Establishes a purchasing pool of family medical leave insurance (FMLI) policies for private employers (and non-state public employers) who choose to offer coverage; and
- Provides an individual opt-in coverage option for employees whose employers do not choose to offer coverage
Leave reasons include:
- Birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child within one year of birth/placement;
- Caring for a family member’s spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition;
- A qualifying exigency due to a covered military member who is the employee’s child, spouse, or parent being on covered active duty;
- Caring for a covered service-member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service-member’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin; and
- Employee’s own serious health condition (only in very limited circumstances; see below)
An employee’s own serious health condition does not appear to be a valid leave reason through the state plan or a private (or non-state public) employer’s plan, but it is a valid leave reason for an individual who:
- Opts-in to the program via the purchasing pool;
- Has a non-work-related illness or injury; and
- Works for an employer who does not offer short-term disability insurance
That last provision of the law has been a source of heavy discussion in the absence and insurance industries. This provision, along with the program’s overall involvement with insurance carriers, will take some time to dissect. For example, how will the state monitor which employers offer short-term disability insurance? What if the Granite program offers better benefits?
Insurers or third-party administrators interested in bidding on the business to create qualifying policies and/or administer government benefits will have the opportunity. Requests for proposals (RFP) for FMLI coverage must be issued no later than 3/31/2022. In addition, FMLI coverage must be in place for state government employees and available for purchase by individuals and other public and private employers with more than 50 employees by 1/1/2023. It’s unclear how the state will award the business or if they will allow multiple carriers/administrators and if you fall into this category, continue researching and following our upcoming blogs for more details.
What employers should do
Although the RFP deadline and coverage effective date may seem far out into the future, New Hampshire’s timeframe to implement this program is actually quite aggressive. Private employers, insurers, and third-party administrators should review the program and begin discussing whether they want to participate. If they choose not to offer coverage to their employees, employers should remember that individual employees will be able to opt in on an individual basis. Regardless of whether they choose to offer coverage, organizations should consider creating (or revising) policies to account for this new paid leave option.
What Guardian is doing
Guardian is in the process of evaluating this new law and determining how it will impact our products and leave administration processes. We look forward to offering additional analysis as we work through the details.