While Congress may be mired in gridlock, the same often does not hold true at the state and municipal levels as evidenced by the growing number of leave laws to protect US employees. Three states—California, Connecticut and Massachusetts—have enacted paid sick leave laws and many cities have done so as well.
In a new XpertHR podcast, Oregon employment attorney Kyle Abraham of the Barran Liebman law firm, details all of these developments. Abraham notes that while Congress has remained silent regarding paid leave, a patchwork of laws has resulted as states and cities have moved to fill the void. He adds that employers can expect to see more paid sick leave measures in 2015.
“There’s absolutely growing momentum for paid leave laws,” says Abraham. That momentum coupled with the lack of a single federal law, he asserts, can create an administrative burden on multistate employers.
Other areas where employee leave protections are expanding include domestic violence leave and bereavement leave. For instance, Oregon employers must provide a reasonable accommodation for employees who are victims of domestic violence to comply with state law. Abraham notes that requirement could include accommodating requests for unpaid time off unless the employer can show the accommodation would cause an undue hardship.
To avoid running afoul of the Oregon domestic violence leave law and others like it, Abraham says, “Any time a supervisor learns that an employee has been the victim of domestic violence in states that cover this as a protected leave, it should absolutely be reported to the HR representative.” But that’s not all. Abraham adds that the information the supervisor learns must remain confidential.
Looking into his crystal ball, Abraham says one leave trend employers should be on the lookout for involves more discussion of paid time off laws upon the birth of a child with the terms “maternity leave” and “paternity leave” going away. He anticipates that the sticking point will be whether the fund is paid by employee contributions, employer contributions or a mixture of the two.
However, the Oregon attorney notes that more and more employers are providing paid time off for the birth of a child of their own volition. “Like any benefit, when an employer provides something that other employers aren’t, that gives them an advantage in the recruitment and retention arenas,” Abraham says. As a result, “They can become the employer of choice and really attract quality candidates to the positions.”
For more insights and analysis you won’t want to miss on new leave law developments, tune into our latest XpertHR Presents podcast.