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Paid family leave

Paid family leave (PFL) is one of the newer benefits employers use to attract and retain top talent. Work-life balance is increasingly recognized as a widespread concern, and more than ever, employees are seeking family-friendly policies.

A growing number of states are responding to this trend by implementing mandatory paid family leave benefits. Although there are common elements to these new regulations, there are also many differences in the way each state designs and implements its plan, as well as how these laws may interact with statutory disability coverage. Lincoln is helping employers stay abreast of the latest developments and the impact on their workforce and company policies by carefully monitoring the introductions and refinement of these programs.

State-specific information

Click the state below to learn more about its paid family leave program.

California Massachusetts
New Jersey New York
Rhode Island Washington
Washington D.C.  

Paid family leave 101 FAQs

What’s the difference between the FMLA and paid family leave?

The most important difference is that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides federally-mandated, job-protected unpaid leave, while the PFL programs are state-mandated and offer paid leave that may or may not be job-protected. While the FPL programs may have similar leave triggers as FMLA (such as bonding with a new child or caring for a seriously ill family member), they commonly stipulate different, often shorter, eligibility periods for benefits than FMLA does. There also may be differences between which employers are required to offer benefits—for instance, FMLA exempts private employers with fewer than 50 employees, but PFL programs may not. The New York program, for example, applies to all private sector employees who work in New York State, regardless of company size or location.

What are common PFL program parameters?

All paid family leave programs include a specific set of events that qualify for leave. So far, existing and emerging programs provide paid leave for employees to bond with a new child (by birth or placement of child via foster care or adoption), as well as to care for a seriously-ill family member. Less commonly, programs include leave related to a family member’s impending military service or to care for an injured service member. Some states are introducing paid family and medical leave programs, which in addition to family leave triggers include a medical leave component for an employee’s own serious health condition. Beyond leave triggers, these programs establish the percentage of wages covered, the duration of benefits, and other important considerations, such as job protection and continuation of health benefits during leave.

How does paid family leave affect existing state disability plans?

Employers may be required to offer both plans—not just one or the other. When both are applicable, typically employees may only receive benefits for leave or disability in any given period, and not at the same time, depending on the state. Some states include a medical leave component for an employee's own serious health condition (which is similar to disability) in their new paid family leave programs. These all-in-one programs will in most cases create a necessary coordination of family and medical leave entitlements and benefit sequencing.

What happens if an employer currently offers a paid family leave benefit to their employees and their state subsequently implements a statewide program?

Each state has different rules, and each employer may face different challenges when it comes to coordinating company benefits and state regulations. Companies need to carefully monitor the latest regulatory changes and should consult their brokers for guidance.

How can I prepare for a paid family leave mandate?

Keep track of key facts, such as state regulatory updates and the dates for implementation of premium deductions. You’ll need to be prepared to answer your employees’ questions, including who is eligible for the benefit, if there will be payroll deductions, and if their job is protected while they are on leave.

What's new?
  • 5/8/19 – The District of Columbia has released a Paid Family Leave Employer Toolkit, which has information on what employers and business owners need to know about paid family leave, how to prepare for the employer tax beginning July 1, 2019, and information for self-employed individuals interested in opting into the Paid Family Leave program. Click here to download the PFL Employer Toolkit and other resources. 

  • 5/1/19 –Massachusetts has extended the deadline for employers and covered business entities to provide written notices to their workforces to June 30, 2019. These notices may be delivered electronically; employees and contractors are expected to sign and return the acknowledgement once received. Get all of the details here

  • 5/1/19 –Massachusetts has also extended the deadline for employers to apply for a Quarter 1 private plan exemption from June 30th to September 20th. Plans approved by the revised date may retain contributions, as stipulated by the commonwealth, that otherwise would be due in October to the Department’s fund. Click here for more details. 

  • 4/26/19 – New Jersey released NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development posters in the employer poster packet. Click here to see all posters available.

  • 4/17/19 - Massachusetts has published written notices for employers and covered business entities to provide to their workforces by May 31, 2019 (electronic delivery is allowed). Employees and contractors are expected to sign and return the acknowledgement once received. Get all the details here.
  • 4/3/19 – Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill No. 1399 into law, which amends the state’s paid family and medical leave (PFML) program. Click here to learn more.

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