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More States Require Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefit (Benefit Minute)

Posted in: Benefit Minute, Employee Benefits

Massachusetts, Washington, and the District of Columbia are the latest jurisdictions to pass paid family and medical leave laws.  The paid leave laws of all three jurisdictions include job protection during the paid leave.

District of Columbia

Effective July 1, 2020, covered employees in the District of Columbia will be entitled to paid leave benefits for the following reasons:

  • Bonding with new child – 8 weeks
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition – 6 weeks
  • Own serious health condition – 2 weeks

Benefits will be paid for a maximum of 8 weeks per year in an amount of up to 90% of average weekly wages (determined on a sliding scale basis) with a weekly maximum of $1,000.   Claims will be adjudicated and paid by the District of Columbia.

A covered employer is any private sector employer that pays DC unemployment taxes, and a covered employee is an individual who spends more than 50% of work time in DC or who spends a substantial amount of work time in DC and not more than 50% of work time in another single jurisdiction.

DC paid family and medical leave is employer-funded.  On a quarterly basis beginning July 1, 2020 (for wages paid from April 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019), covered employers are required to remit payment equal to .62% of wages.

The law also includes a notice requirement effective January 1, 2020.  Notice of DC paid family and medical leave must be posted and also provided in paper or electronic form to all employees on an annual basis, to new employees at the time of hire and to any employee at the time paid family and medical leave is needed.  The program will be administered by the Department of Employment Services.

Massachusetts

Beginning in 2021, covered employees will be entitled to paid leave for all FMLA-eligible reasons, including:

  • Bonding with new child – 12 weeks
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition – 12 weeks
  • Own serious health condition – 20 weeks
  • Qualifying exigency for a family member called to active duty – 12 weeks
  • Care for a family member who is a covered service member – 26 weeks.

The program will be administered by the Department of Family and Medical Leave.  A covered employer is any employer in Massachusetts and all employees working in Massachusetts are covered employees.  The law includes health benefit continuation provisions.

Benefits will be payable beginning January 1, 2021 for all reasons except an employee’s own serious health condition which will begin July 1, 2021.  Benefits will be available to any employee with at least 15 weeks of cumulative earnings in Massachusetts, and earnings of at least $4,700 in the prior 12 months.  For wages up to 50% of the statewide average weekly wage, the benefit rate is 80%, plus 50% of wages that are above 50% of the average statewide weekly wage, with a maximum of $850 per week.

The benefits will be funded by a combination of employee payroll deductions and employer contributions in a total amount of .75% of wages (.61875% for medical leave (82.5%) and .13125% for family leave(17.5%)), capped at the Social Security wage base.  Employers may deduct the full cost of family leave and up to 40% of the cost of medical leave from employees’ wages. Employers are responsible for the remaining cost, except that employers with fewer than 25 covered employees are only responsible for deducting and remitting the employees’ share (no employer contribution required).  Payroll deductions will begin on October 1, 2019, and both payroll deductions and employer contributions must be remitted within 30 days after the end of each quarter.

Claims will generally be adjudicated and paid by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  However, employers may apply for and be granted an exemption from the state plan if they offer benefits and protections equal to or greater than the required paid family and medical leave benefits.  The exemption, which can apply to medical leave, family leave or both, is prospective only once approval is granted.

By September 30, 2019, employers must post a notice describing these PFML benefits and also provide written notice to all employees.  New hires must receive the notice within 30 days.  Acknowledgement of receipt the notice is required.

Washington

Beginning January 1, 2020, covered employees will be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the following reasons:

  • Bonding with new child
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Own serious health condition
  • Qualifying exigency for family member called to active duty

The program will be administered by the Employment Security Department.  A covered employer is any employer with a least one employee in the State of Washington, and all employees working in Washington are covered.  Benefits will be available to employees who have worked 820 hours for any employer over the course of a year.  The benefit amount will be 90% of weekly wages up to a maximum of $1,000 per week.  There is a seven day waiting period before benefits are paid, and they will be paid for a maximum of 16 weeks per year for a combination of reasons (18 weeks in a year if a serious health condition during pregnancy results in incapacity).  The law includes health insurance continuation provisions.

The benefits will be funded by a combination of employee payroll deductions and employer contributions in a total amount of .4% of gross wages, capped at the Social Security wage base.  Employers may deduct up to 63% of the total from wages, and are responsible for paying the remainder, except that businesses with fewer than 50 employees will not be required to contribute and will only be assessed the employee portion.  Payment for wages paid in the first and second quarters of 2019 is due July 31, 2019; thereafter, payments are due one month after the end of each calendar quarter.

Claims will be adjudicated and paid by the State of Washington unless an employer chooses to implement a voluntary plan that meets or exceeds all requirements of the state plan.  Any employee deductions for a voluntary plan must be held in trust.

By January 1, 2020, employers must post a notice describing the paid family and medical leave benefits in places customarily used for other employment-related notices.

 

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