As employers are likely aware, state and local governments continue to adopt paid leave requirements on a fast and furious basis. Several important paid leave-related deadlines occur in December 2019 or become effective Jan. 1, 2020. Below is a summary of near-term obligations employers should be following if they have employees in any of the following cities or states:
Dec. 1, 2019 – Texas: San Antonio Sick and Safe Leave law stopped in its tracks.
The San Antonio Sick and Safe Leave law was scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1, 2019. However, on Nov. 22, a Texas court put the law on hold while a challenge against it proceeds. Thus, employers with San Antonio-based employees have a reprieve, at least until the court issues its final ruling.
Dec. 20, 2019 – Massachusetts: Employers must file for an exemption to use a private plan for paid family and medical leave to avoid first fiscal quarter remittance.
The commonwealth of Massachusetts established the Employment Security Trust Fund to pay family and medical leave benefits to employees. Benefits will become available on Jan. 1, 2021. Employers were required to begin deducting employee contributions to fund the program as of Oct. 1, 2019 and are required to remit employee and employer contributions for the program’s first fiscal quarter (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2019) by Jan. 31, 2020, through a MassTaxConnect account.
Some employers may be interested in using a private plan as an alternative to the commonwealth’s program, either by purchasing a fully insured policy or adopting a self-funded plan. In doing so, the employer eliminates its obligation to remit quarterly contributions to the commonwealth.
Employers interested in using a private plan, whether fully insured or self-funded, must request approval from the commonwealth by Dec. 20, 2019. If the commonwealth approves the application for exemption, that approval will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2019, ultimately eliminating first fiscal quarter remittance obligations.
For employers considering an insured private plan, the commonwealth offers a list of approved carriers. If the employer’s exemption application includes a declaration for insurance from an approved carrier, approval will be pro forma.
A private plan exemption may be requested after Dec. 20, 2019, but approval will apply to a later fiscal quarter, meaning that the employer will be responsible for remitting quarterly premiums until the first quarterly period after approval. As included in the commonwealth’s sample workforce notification, an employer must identify whether it has filed for or has an already-approved private plan in lieu of using the commonwealth’s program to provide paid family and medical leave benefits.
The commonwealth also provided an Employer Guide to Massachusetts PFML addressing employer requirements.
Jan. 1, 2020 – Nevada: New paid leave law takes effect.
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, every private employer in Nevada with 50 or more employees must provide paid leave that accrues at a minimum of 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour of work performed. An employee may use accrued leave for any reason beginning on the 90th day of employment. Employers with paid leave policies providing more leave than is required under the new law are exempt from complying with the state law. For specifics on the law’s requirements, refer to the comprehensive frequently asked questions listed in the Nevada Labor Commissioner’s Advisory Opinion.
Jan. 1, 2020 – Washington: Benefits under state paid family leave law become payable.
As of Jan. 1, eligible employees working in the state of Washington are entitled to apply for payment of paid family leave benefits pursuant to the state’s recent paid leave law. Wage replacement benefits are payable for approved leave requested by eligible employees to:
• Recover from their own illness or injury.
• Bond with a new child.
• Care for a sick or injured family member.
• Attend certain military events.
The state offers an Employer Toolkit to assist employers in meeting their obligations under this law.
An employee’s location where work is performed is generally the key to determining entitlement to required paid leave. Changes continue to be made under current law, and new laws pass even as existing laws face court challenges. Employers must vigilantly follow significant changes in state and local paid leave laws for their workers in these locations.