Blog - Paid Family & Medical Leave Update

Paid Family & Medical Leave Update

Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave (1/1/19)

All Washington employers must provide paid family and medical leave under a bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on July 5, 2017.

The new law creates an insurance fund that employers and employees both pay into, with a 0.4 percent payroll tax. Payroll deductions will begin on Jan. 1, 2019, and benefits will become available to employees on Jan. 1, 2020. The law applies to all private and most public employers in Washington though employers with fewer than 50 employees need not pay the employer portion of the premiums.

Important dates:
Payroll deductions begin on 1/1/19.
Reporting begins on 4/1/19.
Benefits become available to employees on 1/1/20.

Additional information can be found: here.

District of Columbia Universal Paid Leave Act (tax begins 7/1/19)

In this alert, we will briefly cover the Act’s general provisions, interaction with other leave laws, and potential changes on the horizon.

The Act creates a paid leave system for those employed in the District of Columbia. In short, ‘covered employers’ are required to contribute an amount equal to 0.62% of the wages of each of their ‘covered employees’ to the Universal Paid Leave Implementation Fund (the Fund). ‘Eligible individuals’ may then file a claim for paid leave benefits upon the occurrence of a ‘qualifying leave event,’ with those benefits to be paid out of the Fund. As currently written, the Act requires employers to start paying into the Fund on July 1, 2019, and employees will be eligible for leave benefits beginning July 1, 2020.

Important Dates:
New employer payroll tax begins 7/1/19.
Employee access to benefits begins 7/1/20.

Additional information can be found: here.

Massachusetts Paid Family & Medical Leave (7/1/19 and more)

As part of sweeping legislation, Massachusetts will offer one of the most generous family and medical leave programs in the country. While the law is very complex and its requirements will be fleshed out by administrative regulations, the basics are as follows.

Beginning in 2021, most Massachusetts employees will be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member or bond with a new child and up to 20 weeks of paid leave to address their own serious medical issues.

The program will be funded by a new payroll tax at the initial rate of 0.63 percent, which goes into effect beginning July 1, 2019. Benefit amounts will be determined based on a percentage of the employee’s weekly income, up to a maximum of $850.00 per week.

The law also creates the Department of Family and Medical Leave, which will publish proposed regulations for comment by March 31, 2019. The regulations are expected to be finalized by July 1, 2019.

Although the right to take leave will begin in 2021, employers must take certain actions much earlier. For example, beginning July 1, 2019, employers must post a notice describing the benefits available under the law and provide each employee, within 30 days of hire, a written explanation of the employee’s rights.

The law also contains very strong anti-retaliation provisions. If an employee experiences any negative change in status within six months of a requested leave, the change is presumed to be retaliatory. To rebut this presumption, the employer must present clear and convincing evidence that the action was not retaliatory, and was instead based on an independent justification. The statute also includes a private right of action for employees, who can seek, among other things, reinstatement and treble damages for any lost wages.

Important dates:
Notice requirement begins 7/1/2019
Employer contributions begin 7/1/2019
Employee payouts begin 1/1/2021

Additional information can be found: here.

New Jersey Paid Sick Leave (10/29/18)

New Jersey became the 10th state in the nation to require employers to provide paid time off to full- and part-time workers when its Earned Sick Leave Law went into effect.

Under the law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, employers must provide up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year. Full- and part-time employees accrue paid time off at a rate of one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked, or the employer can advance its employees earned sick leave at the beginning of the benefit year.

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is charged with enforcing the new law.

Permissible uses of earned sick time include: when an employee or a family member is sick, for routine medical care, to deal with issues related to domestic or sexual violence, to attend a child’s school-related meeting or event, or when schools are closed due to a public health emergency.

The Labor Department has posted answers to the most frequently asked questions about the new law on its website. To read the FAQs, click here.

The Department has published proposed rules on how the Earned Sick Leave Law will be implemented and will accept written comments to the proposed rules through December 14, 2018 to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Office of Legal and Regulatory Services, P.S. Box 110, Trenton, NJ 08625-0110. To read the proposed rules, click here.

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