Any employer knows the importance of staying current on the constant changes in the business world.
One important trait that successful employers share is knowledge of the state, federal, and local laws pertaining to their business.
This includes paid leave laws; or laws in place to protect employees when a leave of absence is necessary.
These laws apply to all businesses and vary by state.
86% of full-time workers had access to paid leave in March of 2022, proving how many businesses must be compliant with paid leave laws.
If you’re interested in getting help with navigating leave laws to ensure your organization’s compliance, contact us.
What are Leave Laws?
Multiple laws are in place at both the state and federal levels to ensure the protection of employees, which are intended to cover various circumstances.
Leave laws are among these, and their aim is to protect the job security of workers should they need to take a leave of absence.
These laws protect the rights of employees to retain employment, avoid discrimination, and in some states, continue receiving company health insurance.
Paid leave laws offer an expansion of this protection, allowing workers to retain partial (and, in some cases, full) wages and benefits while they’re unable to work.
Paid leave laws vary by state and can be applied to differing scenarios, such as medical leave, family leave, bereavement leave, and more.
Paid leave laws can belong to one of two categories: voluntary and mandatory.
Many states (as well as Washington D.C.) have elected mandatory paid leave laws, such as California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and several others.
Voluntary paid leave law states include New Hampshire, Vermont, and Virginia. In fact, New Hampshire was the first state to enact a voluntary paid leave law.
There are ongoing discussions happening in the Whitehouse, though as of yet, there is no federal mandate for paid leave laws to speak of.
So far, the only protection law that has been implemented federally is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which guarantees employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Paid Leave Laws Taking Effect in 2023
There are five states expanding or making changes to their paid leave laws for 2023: California, Colorado, Maine, New York, and Oregon. Their changes are as follows:
California has changed its requirements for the definition of a family member as of January 1st, 2023.
These changes take place under the California Family Rights Act and the Healthy Workplaces Healthy Family Act. This expansion allows employees to choose a designated person that they may take time off to care for that is not in their immediate family.
California has also made more changes to its paid leave laws, which include bereavement leave.
Employers of five or more workers are now required to provide five days of paid bereavement leave within three months of the employee’s loss.
However, this only qualifies as paid leave if there is an existing policy in place.
In Colorado, a new paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act was implemented on January 1st, 2023, though benefits won’t officially be available until 2024. Employers are required to submit premiums to incorporate this change into their existing policies.
Once it goes into effect, employees will be granted 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, with an additional four weeks granted for childbirth complications.
New York is expanding its State Paid Family Leave laws to provide paid leave for employees caring for their siblings.
This change goes into effect on January 1st, 2023, and includes both biological and adopted siblings, as well as step and half-siblings.
Oregon has updated its paid leave laws to modify the definition of the benefit year. As of January 1st, 2023, Oregon’s Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance program will account for overlap with any quarter of the year a previous claim was filed.
Maine has implemented an amendment to their law regarding paid vacation, also going into effect on January 1st, 2023.
The new requirements state that all employers with a staff of 11 or higher must pay out all accrued vacation wages that remain unused.
Uptick in Leave Laws
Paid leave laws are gaining popularity among several states and municipalities.
At least 15 states have paid leave laws in place, with others following closely behind.
Some states go even further by extending their paid leave laws during times of public health emergencies or providing leave without requiring an explanation.
For example, San Francisco implemented their Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (PHELO) in 2022, requiring employers with 100 workers or more to provide up to 80 hours of public health emergency leave in addition to any existing policies.
Colorado has a similar plan in place: their Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) law requires employers to provide two weeks of supplemental leave during public health emergencies.
In Nevada and Maine, leave can be used without employees disclosing the reason to employers, with the exception of family and medical leave, as these have their own notice provisions in place.
Oregon also allows extended paid leave during a declared state of emergency, allowing employees to care for their children in cases of illness or school closures.
Many states and municipalities are amending, expanding, and adding new paid leave laws in 2023.
These laws are different for each state and can have a direct impact on your business.
Being aware of the paid leave laws in your state or municipality helps to avoid any potential issues before they arise, allowing your business to continue running smoothly.
If you’d like to speak to an HR representative about your business, contact us.