Paid family leave (PFL) is one of the newer benefits used 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. With Lincoln’s careful monitoring of these programs, brokers can help their clients stay abreast of the latest developments and the impact on their workforce and company policies.
Click the state below to learn more about its paid family leave program.
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Paid family leave 101 FAQs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 2/19/19 — New Jersey has passed a law that amends the state's family, disability, and domestic violence leave programs. For family and disability leave programs, the changes apply to both private plans and the State plan. Read Governor Murphy's news release for more details.
- 2/3/19 — The expansion to the New York Paid Family Leave Law's definition of "serious health condition" is now in effect. You can find a summary of all 2019 updates on New York's paid family leave site.
- 1/23/19 — Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) released a draft of the regulations that can been found on the DFML website.
- 1/1/19 — Employee contributions for state run paid family leave programs have started in Washington. For more information click here.
- 1/1/19 — New York Paid Family Leave increases to 10 weeks at 55% for 2019. Find out more information on our NY PFL FAQ page.