New family and medical leave requirements may be coming. States have been passing legislation regarding paid time off, and more changes may lie ahead. Even in states where laws haven’t been passed yet, employers should be paying attention.
Current Federal Family and Medical Leave Requirements and the Pandemic
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave per 12-month period for certain reasons related to medical issues or family care. Some employees may be entitled to up to 26-workweeks of military caregiver leave.
Although this law provides workers with the right to take time off, it does not guarantee paid leave. Some employees may have disability insurance or accrued vacation time, but employees exercising their FMLA rights often have to take unpaid leave.
During the pandemic, many workers needed to take time off because they had contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 or because they had to care for children, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act created temporary requirements for paid leave. However, this law expired on December 31, 2020.
New State Family and Medical Leave Laws
In the absence of federal paid leave requirements, many states have been making their own laws.
According to Investopedia, nine states have passed legislation to require paid family or medical leave. These states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. The District of Columbia also has paid leave requirements, and Hawaii has temporary disability insurance requirement.
Some states have passed laws that expand leave requirements but do not create requirements for paid leave. The National Conference of State Legislatures says that at least 30 states have passed leave-related laws. Some of these laws are pregnancy leave statutes.
The Next Wave of Legislation
It is likely that more states will consider and possibly pass paid and unpaid leave requirements. New requirements may also be coming at the federal level.
According to KFF, there have many attempts to create federal paid leave policies, including a 2020 proposal for paid parental leave for all U.S. workers.
The American Families Plan, the Biden administration’s proposed plan, includes the creation of a national paid family and medical leave program. According to a fact sheet from The White House, the proposal would guarantee 12 weeks of paid parental, family and personal illness or safety leave by year 10 of the program.
Confusion and Compliance
The legal landscape is changing quickly. Although only nine states currently have paid medical and family leave laws on the books, many of these laws were passed in the last few years. More laws may be coming, both on the state and federal levels. At the same time, the variation from state to state can make compliance tricky, especially for companies with employees in two more states.
The Future of FMLA
Public awareness of FMLA has grown significantly during the pandemic, which may be prompting increased usage. If COVID-19 cases continue to surge, it’s possible that additional FLMA provisions could be enacted, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Can Your Team Keep Up with Increasing FMLA Administration Demands?
When your employees take FMLA leave, they may choose to continue their health insurance benefits and you may need the ability to bill them for those benefits directly if benefit payments cannot be managed through payroll deduction.
With Travisoft, you can automate the FMLA direct bill process. Our system allows you to enter the employee’s FMLA leave period, send invoices and receive and track benefit premiums payments.