Coronavirus (COVID-19) and State Updates

May 21, 2020

California Employment Development Department (EDD)

If you have a Voluntary Plan for California employees in place of State Disability Insurance (SDI), you likely received a reminder email from the EDD last week regarding Administrative Contact Forms that are due on June 15, 2020. The Larkin Company is preparing DE 2520BV-A and DE2520BV-C (we complete DE 2520BV-B with our contact information) and will be sending to you for your review. Look for these to be e-mailed over the coming weeks.

California Paid Family Leave (PFL) and the San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO)

In just six weeks, the California PFL benefit duration will increase from 6 weeks to 8 weeks (for claims that begin on July 1, 2020 or later). Additionally, employers with covered employees in San Francisco will be required to provide 8 weeks of supplemental compensation under the PPLO for claim effective dates beginning on or after July 1, 2020. Employers are required to provide supplemental compensation in an amount such that the PFL benefit plus the supplemental compensation equals 100% of the employee’s gross weekly wage, subject to a weekly maximum amount of $2,167.

As a reminder, PFL benefits from the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program or a Voluntary Plan (a private disability and PFL plan that employers in California may offer to their California employees as an alternative to SDI coverage) are for individuals who require time off to care for a seriously ill family member or take time to bond with a new child.

PPLO requires covered employers to provide supplemental compensation only for employees who are receiving PFL benefits for bonding with a new child.

Many of our clients have generous top-up pay programs in addition to the benefits provided through SDI or a Voluntary Plan. Those who have an existing policy that provides employees with fully paid parental leave for at least the number of weeks paid leave is required by PFL are not required to provide supplemental compensation. If your top-up pay policy provides fewer than 8 weeks of top-up pay (as of July 1, 2020), your Larkin Account Manager may reach out to you to discuss your program and the impact of the duration increase to 8 weeks. We prefer to take a proactive approach as there may be additional coordination required for clients that provide fewer than 8 weeks of top-up pay as of July 1, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

If you are looking for something to read while you relax this Memorial Day weekend, you’re in luck. The CDC has published a 60-page Coronavirus guidance document, titled CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again

District of Columbia (DC)

The District will begin administering Paid Family Leave benefits to workers effective July 1, 2020. If you have yet to provide the required notice to employees in DC, we recommend doing so as soon as possible.

Massachusetts

The Department of Family and Medical Leave now has information on the formal comment period including information on how public hearings will be conducted. The first hearing will be June 11, 2020 via WebEx. In-person hearings may be permitted depending on social distancing restrictions – please check the DFML website prior to the hearing dates for more information.

Oakland

Oakland has joined the ranks of other major California cities when the city council passed (on May 12, 2020) an emergency ordinance that provides emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) for Oakland employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a required notice that has not yet been released – we will let you know when it’s available. The ordinance is effective immediately through December 31, 2020. Here are the details:

  • The law covers all employers with some exemptions for small employers (fewer than 50 employees).
  • Employees may elect to use EPSL before any other leave the employer provides, or the Oakland paid sick leave ordinance. Employers cannot require employees to use other leave before they use EPSL.
  • Employers may take reasonable measures to verify or document leave use; however, they may not require a doctor’s note unless an employee requests leave because they have a condition a healthcare provider certifies puts them at a heightened risk of serious illness or death if exposed to COVID-19.
  • Employees working at least 40 hours per week within the City of Oakland are entitled to 80 hours of EPSL; those working fewer than 40 hours per week are entitled to EPSL equal to the average number of hours the employee worked within the City of Oakland during the period of February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020 (the 14 days must be the 14 days with the highest number of hours worked within the City of Oakland during the noted period).
  • Payment for leave is up to $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate.
  • EPSL may be taken for the following reasons:
  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in #1 or has been advised as described in #2;
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions;
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of the Treasury.
  7. To enable the employee to care for a family member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19;
  8. To take time off work because the employee:
    • Is at least 65 years old;
    • Has a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or weakened immune system;
    • Has any condition identified by an Alameda County, California or federal public health official as putting the public at heightened risk of serious illness or death if exposed to COVID-19; or
    • Has any condition certified by a healthcare professional as putting the employee at a heightened risk of serious illness or death if exposed to COVID-19.

Oregon

The Employment Department now has a website devoted to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program that is currently in development – as a reminder, contributions will begin January 1, 2022 and benefits will be available January 1, 2023. The site has some useful information including a Program Fact Sheet and a FAQ document.

If you have any questions, please reach out to compliance_services@thelarkincompany.com

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