Build Back Better Act Moves to Senate
After much negotiation, the House of Representatives has passed the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) bill and will now move it to the Senate for review. Investments in education through universal pre-kindergarten, childcare, and workforce development programs take front and center, as does four weeks of universal paid family and medical leave (PFML).
States Implement PFML
On the state level, ten states plus the District of Columbia have or are currently implementing comprehensive PFML programs, while many others have adopted various types of paid leave. Even if universal PFML doesn’t pass this attempt at enactment on a federal level, it’s still important to stay aware of paid leave trends nationally and locally.
What is PFML?
PFML is a program offered at the federal, state, or local level that provides paid leave benefits for qualifying family or medical purposes. Benefits can vary by location, and may allow employees to take paid time off to:
- Care for themselves while recovering from an illness or injury
- Bond with a new child
- Support a family member with a serious medical condition
- Care for or support a military service member
- Seek assistance or take other safety measures in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
Who can participate?
Because PFML hasn't been enacted on a federal level, leave definition varies greatly for employers. For example:
- In California, most private employers are automatically covered,
- In Oregon, employers of any size are covered, and
- In Massachusetts, state and federal governmental agencies are covered. City, town or other local governmental employers may vote to opt in.
Like employer participation, the types of employees who can participate also varies by program. For example:
- In California, public sector employees are not generally covered unless their employer opts in through collective bargaining,
- In Colorado, nearly all employees are covered, and
- In Massachusetts, employees who are covered by the state unemployment insurance law are generally covered, with some exceptions.
Make sure you know the details in your state.
View Your State
State programs are anything but uniform. From eligibility requirements to benefit amounts and voluntary versus mandatory contributions, learn the details of PFML in your state.
How Can You Prepare for Federal PFML?
Until legislation is passed by the Senate, and signed by the President, all proposed legislation is subject to change or may fail to gain passage altogether. While we wait to see what makes it into the final bill, you can be examining current leave patterns and looking in depth at your employee demographics. Think about which employees are most likely to use federal paid family or medical leave benefits and how a federal program might impact existing leave programs in your organization, including sick leave banks or other donation mechanisms.
The biggest difference is one provides paid leave while the other doesn’t. FMLA refers to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, a federal law that provides employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualifying reasons. PFML refers to state or local laws that provide paid leave or some level of income replacement for situations similar to those also covered under FMLA.
Integration or coordination with other benefits may be possible, and can vary depending on the specific PFML program.
PFML benefit periods may vary and are dependent on a variety of factors within each federal, state, or local program.
American Fidelity is a leading insurance and services provider focused on select industries. We specialize in providing benefits communication and helping professionals navigate regulatory impacts to benefit programs in our niche markets. We will continue to monitor and communicate developments related to federal and state PFML.