Compliance Update – December 2019

Every month, Lincoln puts together the latest compliance news related to family and medical leave laws and regulations – helping you keep track of the important deadlines, compliance considerations and links to additional information.
 

  • Family and medical leave
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Accommodations
  • Benefit and Contribution Rates

Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Federal Legislation

December 11, 2019

Federal lawmakers have reached a deal to create a paid parental leave program for federal employees, which will be folded into the annual defense policy bill. If passed by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the president, federal employees will be able to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster of a new child, effective October 2020. Lincoln will continue to monitor this legislation.

Washington

December 31, 2019

Washington is replacing their Family Leave Act (FLA) program with the Paid Family and Medical Leave program. The FLA provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave in a 12-month period. All WA FLA leaves will end effective December 31, 2019. Workers covered by the PFML state plan who need leave after December 31, 2019 may apply for PFML through the state portal on or after January 1, 2020. Workers covered by a PFML voluntary plan administered by Lincoln may pre-file their PFML claims before January 1, 2020.

December 2019

The Employment Security Department (ESD) is finalizing details for the launch of the Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits program:

  • New Available Resources: The ESD has published guides to aid employees in planning their PFML leaves: the Parents’ Guide for bonding leave, and the Patient and Family Guide for leave to care for yourself or a family member. These guides are available on the PFML website.
  • Upcoming Notices and Communications: The ESD will provide a standard employer notice of PFML benefits and a benefit guide that provide information on how to apply for benefits and submit weekly claims. The ESD will also provide a step-by-step video walk-through of the PFML online application as well as detailed application instructions.
  • Rulemaking: The Employment Security Department (ESD) has finalized the PFML program rules. The ESD conducted the PFML rulemaking process in seven total phases over two years, each related to different parts of the law. The rules of the final phase are expected to go into effect on January 2, 2020.
  • State Plan Claims: Employees can begin their claim applications on January 1, 2020. An employee will have to create an account and apply for benefits on the state plan online services portal (SecureAccessWashington). Employees may also apply using a paper application form (the paper form is yet to be published). The employee will also have to submit weekly benefit claims online or over the phone. The state has provided the template WA PFML Certification of Serious Health Condition form (PDF) ; however, the state will also accept FMLA certification forms as supporting medical documentation.

Throughout December, employers can expect updates on a more frequent basis on the Washington PFML website.  Lincoln encourages employers to check the state website throughout the month or contact the ESD for further information.

Clarification: Concurrency of FMLA and WA PFML

Employers may have seen recent material that imply that an employee can stack PFML and FMLA. Please note that the WA PFML law itself (RCW 50A.15.110(2)) provides for the concurrency of PFML and FMLA: “Unless otherwise expressly permitted by the employer, [WA PFML] leave taken must be taken concurrently with any leave taken under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.” There may be isolated scenarios where PFML & FMLA entitlements are stacked (i.e. an employee took FMLA in 2019 and qualified for PFML benefits in 2020 or an employee met PFML eligibility initially and later took FMLA when he/she met FMLA eligibility.) However, the majority of FMLA & PFML leaves will run concurrently when an employee meets eligibility under both programs, unless otherwise permitted by an employer. 

Massachusetts

November 19, 2019

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) website to include some information on PFML quarterly returns and reporting.

Employers, other business entities and self-employed individuals electing PFML coverage are required to file quarterly returns through MassTaxConnect. The first required quarterly return will cover the period from October 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 and must be filed on or before January 31, 2020. All subsequent return filings will be due on or before the last day of the month following a calendar quarter’s close.

Businesses will report contributions in Box 14 (Other) for Form W-2 and in Box 16 (State tax withheld) for Form 1099-MISC. The contribution line on both forms will read “MAPFML.”

The DOR will provide information about the tax treatment of PFML contributions and benefits as soon as IRS guidance is available. Until IRS guidance is issued, individuals and businesses are advised to consult with their own tax advisors on these questions.

December 3, 2019

The Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (DFML) DFML and the Division of Insurance (DOI) are developing a standard policy template that will be used by insurance carriers to develop acceptable PFML policies for the market. In the interim, the DFML will consider a carrier-issued Declaration of Insurance as acceptable proof of family and medical leave coverage consistent with the DFML standards. The DFML has also created a self-funded Declaration of Insurance for the same purpose. Employers have until December 20, 2019 to file for a private plan exemption for fourth quarter contributions. If the exemption request is denied, the impacted business will be responsible for remitting the full contribution amount from October 1, 2019 forward. Please consult your Lincoln representative for specifics on the Declaration of Insurance and the subsequent PFML policy (a plan document will subsequently be available for self-funded coverage)

Colorado

DECEMBER 1, 2019

The Family Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Task Force has submitted an initial recommendation on a family and medical leave program for Colorado employees. Following the Task Force’s initial recommendation, an actuarial study on the implementation of the PFML program was submitted. The Task Force will provide a final recommendation on a paid family and medical leave program for all employees in the state no later than January 8, 2020. Colorado is expected to consider a PFML law during the 2020 legislative session.

Hawaii
November 1, 2019

Pursuant to a law passed in 2018, Hawaii’s legislative reference bureau submitted a paid family leave (PFL) report to the legislature. Among other key issues, the report considered the impacts of adopting PFL programs in Hawaii based on similar programs in other states. They are considering overlaying Hawaii-specific characteristics on specific state program scenarios over a 5-year time horizon and with various benefit period and fixed and progressive wage replacement ratios. The report submitted PFL model considerations, should Hawaii lawmakers decide to move forward with establishing a PFL program. Hawaii is expected to consider a PFL law during the 2020 legislative session.

San Antonio, Texas

November 22, 2019

A state district judge has ruled that the City of San Antonio’s Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance will not go into effect on December 1, pending a full trial on its merits. San Antonio’s ordinance, as originally enacted, would have been effective August 1, 2019, and subsequently postponed to December 1. Under the ordinance, employees will accrue one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. PSL is capped annually at 48 hours for small employers (15 employees or fewer) and 64 hours for medium or large employers (more than 15 employees.

California

October 10, 2019

Effective January 1, 2020, an expanded lactation accommodation law in California will require employers to accommodate the needs of employees who need to express breast milk for the employee's infant child. These accommodations include, but are not limited to a reasonable amount of break time for expressing milk and the use of a room to express milk in private. The break time shall, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer must develop and implement a lactation accommodation policy; the policy must be included in employee handbooks and distributed to new employees upon hiring and when an employee makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave.

California

December 2019

The Employment Development Department (EDD) has issued the General Release Letter for 2020, which provides the 2020 Disability Insurance (DI) Contribution Rate and Assessment Rate. The Director of the EDD announced the 2020 Contribution Rate will be 1.0 percent. The law provides that the Voluntary Plan (VP) assessment rate will be 14 percent of the DI State Plan contribution rate multiplied by taxable wages. In 2020, with the State Plan tax rate at 1.0 percent, Voluntary Plan employers will be assessed at 0.0014 (14 percent of 0.01) of VP taxable wages. Please see below.

2020 California Plan Updates:

DI/PFL contribution rate 1.0%
Taxable Wage Ceiling                  $122,909
Annual Contribution Per Employee           $1,229.09
Maximum weekly benefit amount $1,300
52-Week Maximum Benefit Amount                 $67,600
Assessment rate  0.0014%
State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) – 1st Quarter 2020 $1,325.00
SAWW increase rate 3.84013%

Hawaii

December 1, 2019

Hawaii released their 2020 Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) plan updates. Please see below.

2020 Hawaii TDI Plan Updates:

Maximum Weekly Wage Base $1,119.44
Employee Contribution Rate 0.5% (applies to weekly wages up to the Weekly Wage Base)
Maximum Weekly Deduction $5.60
Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount $650

New Jersey

November 2019

New Jersey will increase its FLI rates effective January 1, 2020. Please see chart below for details.

Employee Contribution rate 0.16% (up from 0.08%)
Employee taxable wage base $134,900 (up from $34,400)
Maximum contribution $215.84 (up from $27.52)

Rhode Island

November 22, 2019

Rhode Island announced that the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) employee contribution rate will be 1.3% for calendar year 2020, up two-tenths of a percentage point from the 2019 rate of 1.1%. Employers should reach out to the state for additional guidance regarding the taxable wage base to set 2020 payroll deductions.

Upcoming: Updated Statutory Disability and Paid Family Leave Guide

Lincoln will update our Statutory Disability and Paid Family Leave Reference Guide. We encourage you to talk to your Lincoln representative to learn more.

Please note: This alert is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

This information is being provided to Lincoln Financial Group clients so they may conduct any necessary

internal evaluation of their policies and procedures. This alert is designed to provide informative and current

information as of the date of the alert. Please contact your legal advisor with any questions regarding the laws

discussed in this communication. Lincoln continually monitors activity related to family and medical leave laws

and as laws pass, we will determine any impacts to our suite of products. Lincoln does not currently administer

or track paid sick leave. The information contained herein includes information on major cities and counties and

is not all inclusive of all city and county laws.

Insurance products are issued by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, IN, Lincoln Life &

Annuity Company of New York, Syracuse, NY, and Lincoln Life Assurance Company of Boston. Dover, NH.

The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company does not solicit business in New York, nor is it licensed to do so. Product availability and/or features may vary by state. Limitations and exclusions apply.