State paid family and medical leave laws are on the rise in the United States, with a total of eight states (plus D.C.)* offering paid leave to their workforces for certain qualifying life or medical events. While these state programs are in varying stages of development and availability, you should immediately familiarize yourself with your state’s program.
*Colorado voters recently approved the Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act. This makes Colorado the ninth state to offer paid family and medical leave. However, benefits will not be available prior to 2024 and employers should continue to monitor developments. More information regarding that law can be found here >>
Several key dates are fast-approaching in the coming months, so we’ve compiled guides to each state’s paid leave program to help you navigate your responsibilities in this ever-changing landscape.
What are state paid family and medical leave laws?
State paid family and medical leave laws provide for paid leave from work for eligible employees based on certain qualifying life events, such as the birth or adoption of a child, to care for oneself or a family member who is experiencing a serious medical condition, or to care for a family member injured while on active duty in the military, among others. Employees receive a weekly benefit which represents a portion of their regular compensation based upon a state created formula.
What do employers need to know?
While state paid leave laws share many commonalities, each state has its own rules and requirements for key provisions of each state law. Employers should closely review the laws of their state and familiarize themselves with the following topics:
-Employee eligibility criteria;
-Weekly benefit amount;
-Employee and/or employer contributions to the program;
-Duration of leave; and
-Qualifying events making employees/participants eligible for leave.
To assist employers, Checkwriters has compiled a brief overview of each state’s paid leave program highlighting the categories above, as well as providing a brief comparison of the key differences between state paid family and medical leave (PFML) and (FMLA).
Key distinctions between state PFML and FMLA:
Varies by state, but can apply to employers with as little as one employee.
Requirement for employers with 50+ employees, public sector agencies, and private and public schools.
Paid; may or may not be job-protected leave.
Unpaid; job-protected leave.
Employers required to collect and remit contributions on behalf of employees (employers can be required to contribute as well depending on the state).
No collection required.
Employee eligibility: Varies by state but can include a minimum amount of earnings as opposed to a minimum duration of employment.
Employee eligibility: Employed by current employer for at least 12 months, with minimum hours worked of 1,250 during that time.
Duration of leave: Varies by state from 12 days up to 52 weeks, depending on the basis for leave; PFML provides income replacement during periods of leave, but may not provide a leave entitlement.
Duration of Leave: Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected family or medical leave, or up to 26 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave in a single calendar year to care for family member in the Armed Forces.
Qualifying events for leave: Varies by state. Can include birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child; an employee’s or family member’s serious health condition; exigencies or circumstance related to a family member’s active duty in the military; leave to address circumstances of family violence, and even organ and bone marrow donation.
Qualifying events for leave: birth, adoption, or foster care of a child within one year of birth or placement; care for employee’s serious health condition; care for family member who has a serious health condition; qualifying exigency related to family member’s active duty in the military, and care for family member who is seriously ill or injured and who is covered servicemember.
Family member definition may be much broader and may include: spouse, domestic partner, child, parent or parent of a spouse or domestic partner; grandchild, grandparent, sibling or a person related by blood or affinity whose association with the covered individual is equivalent to one of the relationships above.
Family member definition is typically narrower: must be immediate, e.g. spouse, child, or parent of eligible employee.
*Some states have also enacted stated-based FMLA laws which provide for unpaid, job-protected leave based on state criteria. Often the state criteria closely resemble federal FMLA eligibility requirements and benefits, however the two laws are not without distinction and should be closely reviewed by employers.
What are my obligations as an employer?
State-based paid leave plans are typically administered through state-existing temporary disability insurance programs, or through newly created public fund programs. Employee contributions are effectuated by payroll deductions. Employers are required to collect and remit employee contributions to the state-administered leave programs. Some states also require employers to financially contribute to the paid leave program in addition to their collection obligations.
Finally, some states permit an employer to opt-out of mandated participation in a publicly administered paid leave program by providing a privately funded plan to its employees. In this case, the private plan proposed by the employer must be approved for use by the state and must be comparable to the public plan administered by the state. In some cases, the private plan must be approved by a majority of employees.
Below is a list of the states with Paid Family and Medical Leave laws.
- California >>
- Connecticut >>
- Washington D.C. >>
- Massachusetts >>
- New Jersey >>
- New York >>
- Oregon >>
- Rhode Island >>
- Washington >>
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.