Coronavirus (COVID-19) and State Updates

June 12, 2020

California

The Golden State may have a new leave law on the books in 2021. AB 2999 has passed the assembly and is headed to the senate. The bill would require employers to provide employees with up to 10 business days of unpaid bereavement leave. As it currently stands, leave would not need to be taken consecutively and would need to be used within 3 months following the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner. The bill would apply to all employers, and employers may require documentation to support the leave request.

We will monitor the status of the bill, any changes, and, if it is signed into law.

California Employment Development Department (EDD)

The EDD has released its forecast for the 2021 Disability Insurance (DI) Fund. The DI fund provides State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits for California employees. The 2021 employee contribution rate is projected to increase from 1.0% to 1.5% (due to the estimated decrease in taxable wages resulting from the economic impact of COVID-19); the maximum weekly benefit is projected to increase from $1,300 to $1,368; and the taxable wage base, from which DI contributions are taken, is projected to increase from $122,909 to $129,338. The final 2021 DI Fund forecast is expected to be published in late October.

California employers may opt out of the state plan if a private plan, Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI), is established and certain requirements are met. Two of these requirements are that the employee cost of VDI cannot be more than what the employee would pay for SDI and the benefits paid by VDI must be at least equal to what SDI would pay. For more information about VDI, please contact The Larkin Company.

The Larkin Company will reach out to clients for whom we currently administer VDI to assist them in planning for 2021.

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

In less than three 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 Disability Insurance (VDI) Plan 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.

District of Columbia

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.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC has again updated its technical assistance Q&A document, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEOC Laws Several new questions have been added that address many topics including accommodations, harassment, discrimination, pregnancy, age, and caregiver/family responsibilities.

Long Beach

Southern California now equals the North with three local level emergency paid leave laws. Long Beach joined Los Angeles and Los Angeles County when they recently enacted an ordinance that requires employers with 500 or more employees (nationally) to provide supplemental paid sick leave. More details:

  • Employee means an individual who performs any work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Long Beach.
  • A fulltime employee is entitled to 80 hours of paid supplemental sick leave while part-time employees are entitled to paid supplemental sick leave hours equal to the number of hours an employee works on average over a two-week period.
  • Payment for leave is up to $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate. However, an employer may pay an employee two-thirds of the employees’ regular rate of pay up to $200 per day or $2,000 in the aggregate for leave that relates to care for another person.
  • Employers may require an employee to identify the basis for requesting leave but may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation.
  • Employers who have generous leave policies (provide a minimum of 160 hours of paid leave annually) are exempt from providing paid supplemental sick leave to any employee who received such generous paid leave.
  • Paid supplemental sick leave may be taken for the following purposes:
    1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, or is caring for someone who is quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19;
    2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 or is caring for someone who is so advised by a health-care provider;
    3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
    4. The employee is caring for a minor child because the child’s school, daycare, or childcare provider is closed or unavailable because of COVID-19 and the employee is unable to secure a reasonable alternative caregiver.

New Jersey

As a reminder, the following changes will take effect beginning July 1, 2020:

  • The benefit percentages for both New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) will increase to 85%.
  • The maximum weekly benefit will increase to $881.00.
  • The maximum duration for FLI claims is increasing to 12 weeks.
  • The duration for intermittent leaves increases to a maximum of 56 days.
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