Paid Leave Laws and Their Future

Paid Leave Laws and Their Future

We’ve blogged on several paid leave law topics already this year and it seems that more and more states and cities are adapting their own laws. But this presents many compliance challenges for employers with employees in multiple jurisdictions. The variances between municipalities and their states have created turmoil as to which jurisdiction has authority over the other. This may now force the federal government to get involved to set a national standard.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Private large employers (employers with 50 or more employees) have complied with FMLA for almost 25 years now. FMLA mandates that employers provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (offering paid leave is voluntary) during a 12-month period to their employees to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child, to care for a family member, or to attend to their own serious medical health condition.

States are also able to expand upon the standards of the FMLA which federal law has already set into place. States which have their own family leave laws include California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. These states have different requirements which include eligibility, who is a covered employer and the amount of leave available. Employers must comply with all requirements of the federal, state and local laws, and employees get the benefits of all the laws which apply.

Paid Family Leave
In the last several years, a handful of states have rolled out paid family leave programs funded through employee-paid payroll taxes. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island currently mandate paid family and medical leave.

Paid Sick Leave
The only states that require private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont. But other states, cities and counties are quickly adopting their own requirements.

  • Arizona: Employers will be required to provide earned paid sick leave to employees starting July 1, 2017.
  • Chicago and Cook County: Cook County, IL, will mandate paid sick leave for employers, including Chicago employers, effective July 1, 2017. Employees will be eligible for paid sick time if they work 80 hours within 120 days. They will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 paid sick leave hours per year and up to 20 of those hours can be rolled over to the next year. Chicago’s sick leave ordinance covers all employers that maintain a business facility within city limits or are subject to one or more of the city’s licensing requirements. Several municipalities within Cook County, though, have opted out of the county’s ordinance, so the law will not apply in those jurisdictions.
  • Georgia: Effective July 1, 2017, certain workers in Georgia who receive sick leave from their employers will be entitled to use up to five days of leave per year to care for family members. But the law does not require Georgia employers to provide sick leave at all.
  • Maryland: The governor vetoed a bill that would have required employers with 15 or more employees in the state to provide most employees with up to five days of paid sick leave per year, but a task force has been charged with making recommendations for new legislation.
  • Minneapolis and Saint Paul: The Minneapolis sick leave ordinance requires employers with at least six employees to provide paid sick and safe time leave to employees who work in the city. Employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours of sick leave per year. The Saint Paul sick leave ordinance is similar, but applies to all employers regardless of size.
  • Nevada: Earlier in June, a bill requiring certain employers to offer paid sick leave was vetoed by the governor. The legislation would have required businesses with 25 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to full-time employees. Employers would have been required to award one hour of sick leave per 40 hours of work for a total of 40 hours per year.
  • New York: Paid family leave starts on January 1, 2018, with eight weeks of leave and with a four-year phase-in to 12 weeks of at least partially paid family leave when fully implemented.
  • Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh’s paid leave law was blocked by a court in 2015. An appellate court in May 2017 agreed that Pittsburgh was not vested with the authority from Pennsylvania to enact the legislation. The law would have required businesses with 15 or more employees to provide upward of 40 hours of paid time off to their workers per year. Employers with fewer than 15 employees would have had to provide upward of 24 hours annually under the measure.
  • Washington: A law pending in Washington State would require employers to offer workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Even though cities are allowed to enforce their own requirements, such states as Minnesota and Pennsylvania are considering laws to bar cities from passing paid leave laws.

Future of Paid Leave Laws
In February, President Trump addressed Congress to work to “ensure new parents have paid family leave.” The White House then presented in May a budget request that included a paid parental leave concept that would involve the creation of a federal and state paid parental leave program to start in 2020. The benefit would provide six paid weeks of leave to new parents.

But rumors state that House Republicans will introduce legislation that will shield employers from the state and local paid leave laws if they offer a certain amount of paid leave to their employees for family and medical reasons. This would be a good deal for employers that don’t care to deal with the varying and ever changing paid leave laws at the state and local levels.

Other pending bills would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program funded by contributions from employers and employees or would offer tax incentives to employers that provide paid family and medical leave.

Source: Fox Rothschild LLP | Paid Leave Wars: The Battles Intensify

06/07/17 CA Blog: Governor Vetoes Maryland Paid Sick Leave Law in Hopes of a Fair Act
02/15/17 CA Blog: Finalized Paid Family Leave Law – Washington, D.C.
02/07/17 CA Blog: Is Paid Parental Leave Right for Your Company?

For more information contact The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.