Summertime State Paid Leave Update
Summer not only brought sunshine and beach time, but also many legislators across the country who passed multiple bills and regulations that directly impact the absence management and administration world. Read below on the summaries of the paid leave legislation that made waves this summer.
In Colorado, Governor Polis signed and enacted legislation CO S 251 in June. This bill authorizes a loan in the amount of $1.5M from the state’s general fund to the Division of Family and Medical Leave insurance for the purpose of implementing the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. The loan would help defray the expenses of program administration prior to commencement of premium contributions, which are scheduled to begin on January 1, 2023.
Connecticut enacted legislation CT S 1202 in June. It includes language regarding appeal procedures for Connecticut Paid Leave (“CTPL”), for which benefits become payable January 1, 2022.
District of Columbia
In May, D.C. enacted D.C. B 24-185 (D.C. ACT 24-90), the “Short-term Disability Insurance Benefit Protection Emergency Amendment Act of 2021,” effective May 26, 2021 through August 24, 2021. This legislation prohibits the offset or reduction of benefits or income. This applies to a temporary or short-term disability insurance policy or contract based on estimated or actual benefits the claimant may receive under D.C.’s paid family and medical leave law, the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (“UPLAA”).
Mayor Bowser signed and enacted D.C. B 345 in July, and the legislature passed D.C B 346 to the Mayor for signature and enactment the first week of August. This “sister” emergency and temporary legislation will extend the availability of “COVID-19 Leave” under the DC FMLA and paid public health emergency leave under the Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2021. This provides that COVID-19 leave under the DC FMLA is extended from July 25, 2021 to November 5, 2021.
Illinois enacted IL HB 158 at the very end of April, amending its paid sick leave law, the “Employee Sick Leave Act,” to permit the use of sick leave for personal care of the employee’s covered family members (including an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent). “Personal care” means activities that ensure a family member’s basic medical, hygiene, nutritional, or safety needs are met when they cannot meet those needs themselves. This includes providing transportation for medical appointments and being physically present to emotionally support a covered family member with a serious health condition receiving inpatient or home care.
Iowa enacted IA S 336 in early May. This legislation amends and expands the state organ donation law, applicable to state employees only, to include paid leave for state employees donating blood (four times per year, up to two hours per time).
Louisiana adopted LA HR 118 in early June. This House Resolution creates a task force to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of a state-mandated paid family and medical leave program. The written report is due no later than 30 days prior to convening of the 2022 legislative session.
In June, Maine enacted ME LD 61/HP 27 which expands the Maine Family and Medical Leave Requirements to permit an employee to take leave to care for their grandchild or domestic partner’s grandchild who has a serious health condition. This previously dead bill was revived and subsequently enacted with an immediate effective date. However, the act was quickly amended, removing the emergency language from the preamble. No longer effective immediately, it will instead become effective Monday, October 18, 2021, 90 days after the session adjournment on July 19.
In late July, Maine enacted ME LD 1559/SP 501 a. This will establish a commission to develop a Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program.
Massachusetts enacted MA H 3702 at the end of May. This legislation creates a COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave program requiring employers to provide employees with paid leave for various COVID-19 related reasons. Leave reasons may include COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis, seeking diagnosis or treatment, obtaining, or recovering from vaccine, quarantining due to exposure or symptoms, or needing care for a family member who is quarantining, self-isolating, or seeking diagnosis/treatment/care for COVID-19 symptoms. It also created a state COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund to reimburse eligible employers for paid leave benefits (not eligible for FFCRA tax credits) up to $850 per employee. COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave would be available until September 30, 2021.
Minnesota enacted MN S 9 a at the end of June. This legislation repeals Minnesota’s existing pregnancy accommodation law and amends the existing nursing mother accommodation law to add language regarding accommodations for pregnant employees. It also added language prohibiting employers from reducing an employee’s compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk. This applies to employers with 15 or more employees, reducing it from those with 21 or more employees.
Missouri enacted MO HB 432 in mid-July. This legislation requires private employers with 20+ employees (and state employers) to provide up to two weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence or have a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, for specified purposes. This will go into effect August 28, 2021.
Governor Sisolak enacted NV S 209 in early June. This legislation amends the state’s paid sick leave law to allow employees to use accrued paid sick leave for any use, without limitation. It would also require private employers to provide four hours of paid leave per covered employee for COVID-19 vaccination (two hours of paid leave if vaccination requires only one dose). Vaccination leave is not available if employer provides on-site vaccination during regular working hours.
In late June, New Hampshire enacted NH H 2, which includes the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan and establishes a purchasing pool for PFL policies providing up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits per year during qualifying leave. The PFL program is voluntary for private employers. Leave reasons include bonding, care for a family member, and qualifying exigency leave. An employee’s own serious health condition is only included for individuals who participate in the individual purchasing pool.
Oregon enacted OR HB 2474 in early June which changes Oregon Family Leave Act (“OFLA”) eligibility requirements during a public health emergency. It expands eligibility to all employees of a covered employer during public health emergency as follows:
- Have worked for the employer for more than 30 days
- Have worked an average of 25+ hours per week in the 30 days before the start of the leave
- Employees who separate from employment, were eligible at the time of separation and are reemployed within 180 days
- Employees who are eligible at beginning of temporary cessation of scheduled hours of 180 days or less and who return to work at end of cessation period
This legislation also removes gendered language from pregnancy provisions and incorporates school/childcare provider closure due to public health emergency leave reason and verification requirements in statutory text.
Oregon also passed and enacted OR H 3398 in July. This legislation will delay the implementation of the Oregon PFML program, and will push back the following dates:
- The deadline for the Director of the Employment Department to adopt rules/regulations implementing the PFML program until 9/1/22;
- Commencement of contributions/premium payments until 1/1/23; and
- The availability of paid leave benefits until 9/3/23.
In June, Pennsylvania enacted PA HB 203, the “Living Donor Protection Act,” which will require FMLA-covered employers to provide “the same leave” as that provided to eligible employees unable to work because of a serious health condition or when the eligible employee must care for the eligible employee’s spouse, child, or parent with a serious medical condition, or for the preparation and recovery necessary for surgery related to organ or tissue donation by or for the eligible employee or the eligible employee’s spouse, child, or parent.
In Rhode Island, RI S 688 was signed by the Governor in early July, which increases Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) benefits. The TCI benefits entitlement will increase from four weeks in a benefit year to five weeks beginning January 1, 2022 and will increase again to six weeks January 1, 2023.
Washington enacted WA S 5097 in early May which will expand the WA PFML law’s definition of covered family relationships to include any individual who regularly resides in the employee’s home (unless the individual simply resides in the same home with no expectation that the employee care for the individual) or where the relationship creates an expectation that the employee care for the person, and that individual depends on the employee for care. The expanded definition will apply for purposes of determining whether there is a qualifying family relationship for leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition and for military exigency leave under the WA PFML law.
Additionally in early May, Governor Inslee enacted WA SB 5115, “An Act Relating to Establishing Health Emergency Labor Standards,” which, among other things, prohibits employers from discharging, permanently replacing, or in any manner discriminating against an employee who is at high risk for severe illness from the disease that is the subject of an existing public health emergency for seeking accommodation that protects them from the risk of exposure, or if no accommodation is reasonable, utilizing all available leave options, including but not limited to unpaid leave, until completion of the public health emergency or accommodation is made available.
What Guardian is doing
Guardian continuously tracks and analyzes the status of current and pending leave and accommodation legislation across all 50 U.S. States, D.C., and Puerto Rico to determine potential impacts to our customers. In addition, Guardian monitors guidance from agencies such as the Department of Labor and EEOC and incorporates that guidance into our administration when appropriate.