2022 Paid Family and Medical Leave Legal Round Up
2022 brought continued developments in the laws impacting employee leaves of absence. States continue to pass new laws, expand existing programs, and explore alternative models to provide paid and unpaid leave benefits to workers. In the fight to recruit and retain an increasingly mobile and diverse workforce, it’s essential to understand how these laws impact you. With federal paid leave efforts tabled (for now), our focus is on the states. As we close out the year, here’s an overview of significant paid leave activity across the nation, as well as a preview of what we may see in 2023.
Newer PFML Programs
Eleven states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) have enacted new paid family and medical leave (PFML) programs. The following programs will soon take effect:
The state of Oregon issued final rules for its Paid Leave Oregon program scheduled to take effect in 2023. Contributions in Oregon begin January 1, 2023 for benefits beginning September 3, 2023. Of note to employers deciding to provide their own plan instead of the state’s – the deadline to submit an equivalent plan application in time to avoid initial contributions was November 30, 2022. Employers can, however, file an equivalent plan application any time before May 31, 2023, in order to guarantee an equivalent plan effective date of September 3, 2023. Filing earlier than May 31st may allow employers to avoid some contributions to the state plan.
Colorado, where contributions begin January 1, 2023 for benefits beginning January 1, 2024, finalized rulemaking for its FAMLI program. All employers must register for the state’s My FAMLI+ portal in preparation to remit payroll deductions and submit quarterly wage reports beginning January 1, 2023. Private employers will be eligible for a refund of premiums paid if they apply and receive approval to offer a private plan by the January 1, 2024 effective date. Local government employers deciding to decline participation in FAMLI must formally vote to opt out before January 1, 2023 to avoid 2023 contributions and must also register for My FAMLI+.
Rulemaking for Maryland’s Time to Care Act is still in very early phases. The program may see significant adjustments via legislation in 2023, but it will offer employers a private plan alternative to the state program. Contributions begin October 1, 2023 for benefits beginning January 1, 2025.
Delaware became the most recent state to provide comprehensive paid family and medical leave with enactment of the Healthy Delaware Families Act. Contributions begin January 1, 2025 for benefits beginning January 1, 2026. Delaware’s program closely tracks federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements but includes smaller employers.
The state of California expanded its paid family leave program with passage of a bill giving low wage workers an increased benefit amount (up to 90% of wages when the bill comes into full effect in 2025), paid for by increased contributions from high earners. California’s current wage replacement rates, which were set to expire at the end of 2022, have been extended through 2024.
In Massachusetts, weekly benefits will increase from the 2022 maximum of $1,084.31 per week to $1,129.82 per week in 2023. Contributions decreased from 0.68% to 0.63% of eligible wages (employers with 25 or more covered individuals) and from 0.344% to 0.318% (employers with fewer than 25 covered individuals).
New Jersey announced efforts to increase awareness of its programs, whose growing fund balances have outpaced benefits payments. The state will reduce worker and employer contribution rates to the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) programs for 2023. Workers will see their contribution rates for TDI drop from 0.14% to zero percent, while FLI rates decrease from 0.14% t to 0.06%. Employers will also move to a lesser contribution table and see a reduction in TDI contributions for fiscal year 2023. (Employers do not contribute to the family leave program in New Jersey).
In 2023, the list of family members for whom eligible workers can take paid leave expands to include siblings with a serious health condition. Benefits are up too, with a maximum weekly benefit in 2023 of $1,131.08, or $62.72 more than the maximum weekly benefit for 2022. While benefits went up, overall contribution rates are down, with a maximum annual contribution for 2023 of $399.43 ($24.28 less than 2022).
Rhode Island enacted legislation to increase the state’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) benefits over the next two years. Effective January 1, 2023, the program will provide as much as six weeks of paid leave (up from five weeks) to care for a qualifying family member or take parental bonding leave. Temporary Disability Insurance benefit amounts increased too, effective July 1, 2022, from a range of $107 to $978 to between $114 and $1,007.
Paid family and medical leave premiums are increasing in Washington to keep pace with more people using the program, according to the state. Beginning January 1, 2023, the premium rate will increase to 0.8%, up from 0.6% in 2022. Washington employees also have more ways to use their paid leave benefits, with a new child loss bereavement benefit.
District of Columbia
In the District of Columbia, the amount of paid leave available to workers increased effective October 1, 2022, with available medical and family leave benefit periods doubling from six to 12 weeks, and parental leave increasing from eight weeks up to 12. The one-week waiting period before an eligible employee can receive benefits has been permanently eliminated, and employer contributions are down from 0.62% to 0.26% effective July 1, 2022.
2022 was the first year benefits became payable in Connecticut, with a new notice requirement for employers in the state taking effect July 1, 2022 and final amended regulations taking effect August 3, 2022. The state continues to refine reporting and administrative requirements and employers are encouraged to monitor new developments.
Under the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan, employees of the state government participate automatically, serving as the risk pool for the plan. Other public employers, as well as private employers with more than 50 employees, may opt in to the program, which is administered by a private carrier. Employees who do not work for a participating employer have the option to obtain coverage individually. Benefits for state employees begin January 1, 2023. Open enrollment began December 1, 2022 for employers and January 1, 2023 for individual employees.
Virginia is among the first states to allow companies to offer private insurance plans to cover family leave. Effective July 1, 2022, insurers licensed to write life, accident and sickness, and property and casualty insurance in the state can begin offering paid family leave insurance. Coverage must provide for a percent or a portion of loss of income due to certain covered life events. Purchase of the new paid family leave insurance coverage is completely voluntary.
If you live in one of the impacted states, review your leave of absence policies to make sure they match up with current legal requirements. Keep on top of new laws and regulatory changes that impact you.
Managing new compliance requirements can make absence management so complex some employers need outside help. Decide if outsourcing some or all of these responsibilities makes sense for you.
This blog is up to date as of December 2022 and has not been updated for changes in the law, administration or current events.