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April 14, 2020 in HR, Employee Related, Benefits, Tax Info

Rethink Your Paid-Leave Policies

For most employers, paid leave is a core benefit due to its essential role in attracting and recruiting talent. As noted in a 2019 report by SHRM, 62% of full-time exempt employees receive PTO and 61% of full-time nonexempt employees get PTO.

Up until fairly recently, paid time off largely remained a voluntary employer-sponsored benefit. Per the Kaiser Family Foundation, federal regulatory bodies have made many efforts to implement a national paid-leave policy, but those attempts were unsuccessful.

What about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

The FFCRA, signed into law on March 18, 2020, is a federal rule requiring employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave for coronavirus-related situations. The act does not pertain to employers with 500 or more employees. Further, it’s a short-term measure that expires Dec. 31, 2020.

Nevertheless, the FFCRA, along with a growing number of state and local paid-leave laws, is forcing employers to reconsider their paid-leave policies.

What are the state and local paid-leave mandates?

In some states, employers must give eligible employees paid sick and/or family leave, which employees can use to care for themselves or sick family members. A few states simply mandate paid leave, which can be taken for any reason.

Among the states requiring paid leave are:

  • Arizona.
  • California.
  • Connecticut.
  • District of Columbia.
  • Maine.
  • Maryland.
  • Massachusetts.
  • Michigan.
  • New Jersey.
  • New York.
  • Oregon.
  • Rhode Island.
  • Vermont.
  • Washington.

Among the cities and counties with paid-leave laws are:

  • Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Monica (California).
  • Cook County and Chicago (Illinois).
  • Montgomery County (Maryland).
  • Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth (Minnesota).
  • Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).
  • Austin, San Antonio and Dallas (Texas).
  • Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane (Washington).

Additionally, some states and local governments require employers to give paid or unpaid leave, or greater access to existing paid-leave programs, for coronavirus reasons. Among these states are:

  • California.
  • Los Angeles.
  • San Francisco.
  • New York.
  • Colorado.
  • New Jersey.
  • Rhode Island.

What does all of this mean?

State, city and county paid-leave laws each have their own criteria. So, your challenge is to determine whether your business is subject to any state, city or county paid-leave mandates. If so, you’ll need to figure out the best way for your company to administer them.

In cases where both state and local paid-leave laws apply, seek expert assistance on how to proceed. The same goes if you’re subject to a temporary federal rule — such as the FFCRA — plus a state or local paid-leave mandate.

If you voluntarily offer paid leave and must now comply with a federal, state or local paid-leave law, make sure your paid-leave policies reflect no less than the minimum legal requirements.