5 January 2021

Paid Family Leave Across the Nation

How the landscape has changed across the US and how States with active Programs adapted in light of COVID-19

Paid Family Leave Across the Nation

Despite events of 2020 that overshadowed focus on initiatives related to Paid Family Leave (PFL) and Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) programs, Washington D.C. launched its PFML program in July, and Colorado residents just voted for a PFML program during the November elections.

Combined with the now active PFML program in Massachusetts, as of January 2021, there are 7 states/districts providing this type of state-mandated benefit, plus another 3 scheduled to launch their respective versions over the next 3 years.

There are also several states with recently proposed legislation for PFML programs. Let’s take an updated look at these statutory benefit initiatives.    

Colorado Approved Paid Family & Medical Leave Referendum

Colorado tried to push a PFML bill through its legislature at least four times since 2014 – without success. 2020 marked the final straw for Coloradoans to see this benefit become a reality for them – through an initiative on the ballot. CO residents voted for it with over 57% of the voters approving Proposition 118. Benefits are slated to begin in 2024.  As mentioned earlier, CO is now the third state that is scheduled to provide this type of statutory benefit. Let’s take a look at the full list:

  • Connecticut
    • Due to go live in 2022.
    • Approved 2019.
    • Includes private carrier option.
  • Oregon
    • Due to go live in 2023.
    • Approved 2019.
  • Colorado (2020)
    • Due to go live in 2024.
    • Approved 2020.
    • Includes private carrier option.

General updates and changes to state-level Family Leave in 2020.

We have updated our overview chart by state below to reflect changes to active statutory Paid Family Leave programs, including significant benefit increases to New Jersey’s FLI, and New York entering its final year of the 4-year phase-in period, which brings New York’s benefits to their full level.

Please note: While some statutory benefit programs include both Family Leave and Medical Leave (which provides short-term disability benefits to employees for their own illness), this chart and article focus on the respective Family Leave portion only. If you would like to learn more about the Medical Leave components and state-mandated short-term disability, please visit our Statutory Benefits Site to select your state of interest.

 

State

Program Name

Effective Date

Maximum Duration of Benefits

Benefits Summary

Qualifying Family members include:

California

View Site to be expanded in 2021

Paid Family Leave (PFL)

 

No private carrier option

2004

6 weeks in a 12 month period, increasing to 8 weeks on July 1, 2020, and 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected time off (CFRA) as of Jan 1, 2021

Care for a family member with a serious health condition or to bond with a minor child (within 1 year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption). Military exigency leave begins on Jan 1, 2021

Child (any age), Spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling

New Jersey

View Site - expanded as scheduled in 2020

Family Care Leave (NJ FLI)

 

Private carrier options available, but not offered by most carriers

2009

12 weeks on July 1, 2020, or 56 intermittent days

Continuous or intermittent care to a family member with a serious health condition or to bond with a newborn or newly adopted or foster child (within 1 year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption).

 

Child, Spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, blood relatives, any other individuals the employee considers to be family.

Rhode Island

View Site

Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI)

 

No private carrier option

2014

4 weeks

Care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a newborn child, adopted child, or foster child (within 1 year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption).

Child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law or grandparent

New York

View Site expanded as scheduled as of 1/2021

Paid Family Leave (PFL)

 

Private carrier options available

2018

12 weeks in 2021 and beyond

 

Bond with a new child (within 1 year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption), care for a seriously ill family member, or military exigency.

 

Child, Spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild

Washington

View Site - began as scheduled in 2020

 

Paid Family and Medical Leave (WAPFML)

 

No private carrier option

2020

12 weeks

Care for a family member with a serious health condition, bond with a newborn child, adopted child, or foster child, or military exigency. 

Plus employee’s own health condition under the Medical Leave portion (i.e. short-term disability).

Child, grandchild, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent (in-law), or sibling  

Washington, D.C.

View site - began as scheduled in 2020

Paid Family Leave

 

 

No private carrier option
July 1, 2020

8 weeks of parental leave,

6 weeks of family leave

2 weeks of medical leave

Bond with a new child. care for a family member with a serious health condition. care for your own serious health condition

-Child

-Parent

-Spouse

-Grandparent

-Sibling

This includes biological, foster, step-, and some in-law family members from the list above.

Massachusetts

View Site - began as scheduled in 2021

Paid Family & Medical Leave

(MA PFML)

Private carrier option available
2021 12 weeks for family leave, 20 weeks for one’s own medical leave, up to 26 weeks to care for a covered servicemember

Care for a family member with a serious health condition, bond with a newborn child, adopted child, or foster child, or military exigency. 

Plus employee’s own health condition under the Medical Leave portion (i.e. short-term disability).

-The spouse or domestic partner,

-(step)child

-(step)parent or parent of a spouse (i.e., in-law) or domestic partner; a person who stood in loco parentis to the covered individual when the covered individual was a minor child;

-or a grandchild

-grandparent or

-(step) sibling

 *Bonding leave available only for parents unless otherwise shown.

 

Map of State Paid Family Leave Laws Across the Nation

Map of state paid family leave laws across the nation

This map shows the most current state activity on Paid Family Leave legislation for the private sector (PFL legislation/executive orders for state employees only is not included here). You can expect that some states will move back and forth from the Inactive category and Proposed Legislation category – and in some cases more than once – to reflect situations where a piece of legislation had failed to pass over time and may have been reintroduced multiple times, perhaps in a new form).

You will see that there are fewer states with proposed legislation than tallied in our last report – 16 states with who had recently proposed legislation v. 29 states as of January 1, 2020.  Six states failed to pass a law, two states are on indefinite hold while the remaining five states are either not reporting any legislative activity around Paid Family Leave or have proposed legislation for state employees only.  These 13 states moved to our Inactive category.  Since the majority of these state legislatures have already adjourned their 2020 legislative session, these bills will need to be reintroduced in the 2021 session to be considered. 

Did COVID-19 impact state-level PFML programs?

Aside from the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provided emergency paid sick leave and emergency Paid Family Leave between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, the majority of states with statutory benefits expanded or provided benefits for COVID-19 through their Paid Family Leave programs.

New York

In response to COVID-19, New York temporarily expanded its state-mandated Paid Family Leave (as well as statutory short-term disability, DBL) on an emergency basis through its NY Emergency Paid Sick Leave law.

New Jersey

New Jersey also temporarily expanded its Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits (and Temporary Disability Insurance, more here)  on an emergency basis between March 25, 2020 – Dec 31, 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic for employees sick with, or exposed to COVID-19, or to care for a family member sick with or exposed to COVID-19.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island adopted emergency regulations on March 12, designed to ease its eligibility requirements for its Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) program (and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program), while also expanding benefits.  Rhode Island waived the required 7-day waiting period before claimants are eligible to receive benefits, provided benefits during unemployment due to COVID-19 (and for TDI, enabled claimants to self-attest that they were under quarantine due to COVID-19 rather than requiring a medical certification.)  Rhode Island expanded TCI benefits to working parents who had to stay home to care for a child due to school or daycare closing.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. enacted special legislation for D.C. workers:  the D.C. COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act (CSEA), D.C. Act 23-326 provides up to 16 weeks of temporary, job-protected unpaid leave during a declared public health emergency, specifically COVID-19 Leave (D.C. Code § 32-502.01) effective March 11, 2020, through (currently) December 31, 2020.  This leave can be taken for any of these reasons: Care for Self, Family or Household Member, or Childcare Closure.  This leave is separate from the newly available Paid Family Leave which became active on July 1, 2020.  

Massachusetts

Massachusetts' recently announced new COVID-19 Emergency Regulations to its new PFML program, which just began on January 1, 2021. This regulation clarifies that 2020 births count as a qualifying event (i.e., parents who gave birth, adopted, or placed a foster child in 2020 can take paid family leave in 2021 until 12 months after the date of birth, adoption, or fostering). Most importantly, it stresses that this window is extended for parents who work in acute care hospitals: they can take PFML leave up to December 31, 2021, to bond with their new child – even if the 12-month period, during which leave can be taken, would have expired sooner under normal circumstances. For example, if a nurse in an acute care hospital gave birth on July 4, 2020, the window to take leave would normally expire by July 4, 2021. However, under the new Emergency Regulation, this nurse could still take her leave through the end of 2021.

California & Washington

While California and Washington did not expand regulations for COVID-19 benefits, they did provide clarifications to their existing programs.

California clarified that Paid Family Leave is available to eligible employees who are unable to work because they are caring for family members who are ill or quarantined because of COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional, and that their workers may be eligible for Disability Insurance if they were diagnosed with COVID-19 or had symptoms related to COVID-19); Paid Family Leave is not available for situations like school closings.  And Washington State provides PFML benefits for workers who have a serious medical condition due to COVID-19 and can provide medical certification attesting to that.  Benefits are not available for situations like quarantines, and school and childcare closures.

What’s in store for 2021?

New York lawmakers in Albany, for example, introduced legislation last year ( S08919-A/ A10977), that would enable working New Yorkers to take paid time off to care for their children who are attending school virtually. The bill would provide 67% of a worker’s paycheck for 12 weeks when schools are entirely remote.  California proposed similar legislation to this in 2020 as well, Senate bill 943, which died through inactivity.  We will follow these bills to see if they progress through the next legislative session, although California’s bill seems unlikely.

According to a study commissioned by the National Partnership for Women & Families, about 84% of registered voters support a paid leave program for bonding, caregiving, and military exigency.  So, we will keep a close eye on how the PFML landscape continues to evolve. Stay tuned to see how Paid Family (and Medical) Leave will progress this year by subscribing to our updates.

 

 

 

This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not an offer of coverage or intended to provide legal counsel. Please consult with an appropriate professional for legal and compliance advice. Any PFL information is as of December 15, 2020; it is based on the applicable statutes and regulations and may change as regulations evolve or States issue guidance regarding Paid Family Leave regulations. Have more questions? Email us at pflquestions@shelterpoint.com

*The ShelterPoint family of companies operates under the “ShelterPoint” name strictly as a marketing name, and no legal significance is expressed or implied. The ShelterPoint family of companies consists of ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, a NY-domiciled carrier, and its wholly-owned subsidiary ShelterPoint Insurance Company, a FL-domiciled carrier, depending on the state. ShelterPoint is a registered service mark.

ShelterPoint provides Paid Family Leave in New York and Massachusetts only.  NY PFL and MA PFML underwritten by: ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company (principal office in Garden City, NY)

 

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