Several states and one local jurisdiction have enacted paid family leave (PFL) programs, with more expected to consider these types of programs in the future. We have recently received some questions about PFL so we thought we’d blog about them…

Q: What Is PFL?

A: PFL programs generally provide partial wage-replacement benefits to workers for certain types of absences.

Q: What jurisdictions currently have a PFL program?

A:To date, the jurisdictions with a PFL program include:

  • California
  • San Francisco (SF Employers with 20 or more employees must supplement the State’s benefits when an employee takes time off to bond with a new child)
  • District of Columbia (benefits begin July 2020)
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island (Rhode Island’s PFL program is referred to as Temporary Caregiver Insurance)
  • Washington (benefits begin January 2020)

Q: What types of absences are covered by PFL programs?

A: The types of absences that are eligible for wage replacement benefits vary by jurisdiction:

  • To bond with a newborn or a newly placed adopted or foster child (all PFL programs).
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition (all except San Francisco). Make sure to check who qualifies as a family member under applicable law.
  • For the employee’s own serious health condition (only DC and Washington State).
  • For employees to manage responsibilities resulting from a family member on active duty or impending call to active duty in the military (only New York and Washington State).

Q: Are employers required to contribute to the PFL program?

A: It depends on the program. In California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, PFL programs are funded solely by employees via payroll deductions and provide partial wage replacement benefits when an employee has a covered absence from Work. DC’s program will be funded by employers via a tax on employee’s wages. In Washington, employers with 50 or more employees are responsible for 37% of the total contribution and employees are responsible for 63%. Smaller employers are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium. However, small employers that choose to pay the employer contributions are eligible for state grants.

Q: Is an employee’s job protected during PFL?

A: Some of these laws have express job-protection provisions. For example, in New York, Rhode Island, and Washington, employees returning from PFL must generally be reinstate to the position they held before the start of the eave, or to a comparable position. In other states, the PFL programs may only provide a financial benefit rather than a leave entitlement with job protection. Even in states without express job-protection provisions for PFL, employees may be protected under another federal, state, or local law. For example, California’s PFL law doesn’t specifically offer job protection, but an employee’s absence may be protected under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA), paid sick leave law, or parental leave (effective January 1, 2018).

Q:How does PFL interact with federal FMLA and similar state unpaid leave laws?

A: The Federal FMLA and similar state laws entitle covered employees to unpaid, job protected leave for absences that may also be covered by PFL. In such cases, the leave generally can run concurrently under the various laws. Employers are required to notify employees that the leave is designated under both laws as well as meet all other requirements of the laws.

Q: Are employers required to continue employees’ health benefits during PFL leave?

A: These laws typically require employers to maintain any existing health benefits as if the employee had continued to work.

There are so many State and Federal regulations that change continually, which is why Bourke Accounting is always current with the latest Tax/PR/HR/Benefits laws; we have to be so, we can serve you best! Give us a call today at 502-451-8773 or stop by for a visit. See you soon!