Overview: Several states have passed laws related to paid family leave (PFL) to address a gap in coverage left by federal and state leave laws. While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (and similar state laws) require covered employers to allow eligible employees to take job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons, the leave is unpaid. PFL helps employees by providing them an opportunity to take paid leave under similar circumstances.
Some of the original state PFL laws are insurance-based and provide only wage-replacement benefits. However, more recently, states have passed laws that provide both wage-replacement benefits and leave and reinstatement rights.
Although several of the state PFL programs are funded by employee-paid payroll taxes with no employer contribution requirement, certain PFL laws also require employers to help with funding. In some of the states, PFL benefits are administered along with temporary disability insurance (TDI) by the applicable state agency. However, not all PFL laws fall under a TDI law.
In general, PFL laws consider absences to care for a seriously ill family member and to bond with a new child to be qualifying reasons for leave. Some of the paid family leave (or paid family leave insurance) laws also allow employees to use PFL benefits for a military-related qualifying exigency or for their own medical condition.
Employers should be aware of their obligations under PFL laws and know how to identify and respond to requests for information regarding PFL benefits. It is also important to understand how state PFL laws interact with other leaves of absence protected under federal, state or local laws.
Trends: PFL continues to be a trending issue, and more states are considering passing PFL laws. Employers should be vigilant in tracking these developments to ensure compliance.
Author: Jessica Webb-Ayer, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include the forthcoming requirement to pay contributions to fund benefits under the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016.
Updated to reflect a change in the first quarterly reporting due date for paid family and medical leave premiums.
Updated to reflect amendments to the New Jersey paid family leave law, effective February 19, 2019.
Updated guidance to reflect amendment relating to the definition of serious health condition, effective February 3, 2019.
Updated to reflect an amendment to the state paid family leave law, effective February 3, 2019.
Updated guidance to include information relating to the notice and retaliation provisions of the forthcoming paid family and medical leave law.
Year-end is a time typically focused on endings and for HR that means finalizing benefits enrollment, processing performance appraisals and completing payroll filings. But equally important is to prepare for new compliance requirements that will ring in the New Year.
HR guidance on handling paid family leave.