Upcoming 2021 Changes to Federal, State, and Municipal Laws Related to Absence Management in the US

Keeping Up to Date

Our commitment to our partners is to ensure that you have a solid understanding of leave of absence laws and state wage replacement benefits so that you can act and implement 2021 changes with minimal disruption to your organization.

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2021 Legislative updates by state

Select a state from the map below to view a consolidated version of information provided throughout the year.

Leave administrator working with client

California

California continues to lead the way with progressive, employee-centric laws that are intended to support California workers. While we all can agree these laws bring about a newfound optimism to the everyday worker, managing the laws is complex and employers are left to manage with minimal guidance.

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California State Disability (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits

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What are the Updates?

Effective January 1, 2021:

SDI contribution rate is increasing from 1.0% to 1.2% of employee taxable earnings up to $128,298.

The maximum employee cost will be $1,539.58.

The maximum weekly benefit will be $1,357.

PFL will include military exigency as a leave reason.

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Handbook/Policy Updates

Updates to your company handbook may need to be made if you include state-specific benefits information.

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Notice Requirements

2021 Poster – the EDD will release an updated “Notice to Employees: Unemployment Insurance/Disability Insurance/Paid Family Leave (DE 1857A)”.  Update your current poster site (facility location, shared poster site, wiki, etc.).

New hires – there may be a new Disability Insurance Provisions (DE 2515) and Paid Family Leave Benefits (DE 2511) documents that will need to be provided to all California new hires.

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Larkin Action

The Larkin Company will be updating leave packets to include 2021 notices and updates. Impacted employees will be notified by your leave administrator.

Larkin will adjust employees’ payment top-up calculation and/or benefit payments accordingly.

*Reminder: claims that start in 2020 will be awarded 2020 benefit rates. Claims that begin on or after January 1, 2021 will be eligible for the new benefit rate.

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Larkin Considerations

If you have the state plan or changed your CA VDI rate, we recommend you confirm with your payroll team that they have updated your payroll system to collect the increased employee contributions.

FMLA, CFRA, and CA PFL all now include military exigency as a qualifying reason. If you offer a company family care leave policy that extends beyond federal/state law, you may want to consider adding this leave reason to the policy, although not required.

If you offer military exigency top-up pay or allow PTO for military exigency, the payment will now need to be reduced by any statutory benefits. A top-up policy for military exigency should be created or you can prohibit PTO usage during any paid portion of military exigency leave in California. Please let your Account Manager know so your program can be updated accordingly.

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California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

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What are the Updates?

Effective January 1, 2021:

Senate Bill 1383 amends CFRA.

CFRA now applies to employers with 5 or more employees.

Both parents are entitled to 12 weeks of bonding leave.

Definition of family member is expanded to include grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.
50 employees in a 75-mile radius eligibility requirement no longer applies.

Key employee provision no longer applies/job reinstatement is available to all employees.

CFRA will include military exigency as a leave reason.

The age requirement for a child requiring care (under 18 or an adult dependent) has been removed.

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Handbook/Policy Updates

Updates to your company handbook and leave policy will need to be made. CFRA information is required to be in all California employee handbooks.

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Notice Requirements

2021 Poster – there will be a new DFEH-100-21 poster that will need to replace the existing poster.

Notice to employees – a new DFEH-E03B will need to be provided to all California new hires and be made accessible to all current California employees (employee acknowledgement not required).

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Larkin Action

The Larkin Company will be updating leave packets to include 2021 notices and updates. Impacted employees will be notified by your leave administrator.

*Reminder: new CFRA changes are applied to all employees on or after 1/1/2021 regardless if their leave started in 2020.

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Larkin Considerations

Job Reinstatement – all CFRA-eligible employees are entitled to reinstatement. If you have a Key Employee provision and wish to remove it from your FMLA policy to mirror CFRA, please notify your Account Manager.

Eligibility – you can no longer apply the 50 employees within a 75-mile radius ruling to determine CFRA eligibility. If you have a 50/75 provision and wish to remove it from your FMLA policy to mirror CFRA, please notify your Account Manager.

Bonding Leaves – if you require spouses to split parental leave under FMLA or company policy, consider updating your parental leave policy to remove the split requirement. If you wish to do so, please contact your Account Manager.

Family Care Durations – FMLA and CFRA may not run concurrently for all family care leaves, specifically when leave is taken to care for an adult child, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling, essentially allowing FMLA to be used for another qualifying leave event in the same year. Should you wish to update your existing Family Care Leave Policy, please contact your Account Manager.

Military Exigency Leave – FMLA and CFRA will now run concurrently, reducing the amount of leave time available for an employee.

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2021 Legislative updates by state

Select a state from the map below to view a consolidated version of information provided throughout the year.

Leave administrator working with client

Connecticut

Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (CT FMLI) was passed in 2019 and is now referred to as Connecticut’s Paid Family Medical Leave Act (PFMLA). The program will be administered by the CT Paid Leave Authority who call the program Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL).

Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)/CT Paid leave

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What are the Updates?

Effective January 1, 2021:

Begin deducting employee contributions (0.5%) through payroll deductions on January 1, 2021.

You will need to register with the Authority beginning December 2020. Remit first quarterly contribution payment to the state on March 31, 2021.

 

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Handbook/Policy Updates

Handbook updates recommended for 2022 when benefits begin.

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Notice Requirements

Notify employees of CT paid leave tax deductions if you have not yet done so, including all new hires.

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Larkin Action

There are no required actions for Larkin for 1/1/2021, but we will continue to update you on any changes or program updates as the program continues to be built for the benefit effective date in 2022.

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Larkin Considerations

We anticipate benefits to impact leave processes, LOA pay policies, and packet materials, but we will message again in 2021.

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2021 Legislative updates by state

Select a state from the map below to view a consolidated version of information provided throughout the year.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program began withholding contributions (0.75% payroll tax) in October 2019 and beginning January 1, 2021, eligible employees can begin applying for leave under the state’s new program.

Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML)

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What are the Updates?

Effective January 1, 2021:

Employees will receive up to 80% of their pay with a maximum weekly benefit of $850.

20 weeks of paid medical leave

12 weeks of paid family leave (parental, military exigency)

26 weeks of paid military caregiver leave

Combined total cannot exceed 26 weeks in a benefit year.

Effective July 1, 2021:

12 weeks of paid family leave (family member with a serious health condition) 

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Handbook/Policy Updates

Larkin recommends updating your handbook, leave and pay policies to reflect this new leave benefit as it also includes jobprotection.

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Notice Requirements

Revised poster is now available (link below). A specific written notice from employer to employee is required, including current and all new hires within 30 days of employment. Signed acknowledgement of receipt or refusal from the employee must be retained. Also keep in mind that the notice you provide to your employees is dependent on your company size and workforce demographics.

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Larkin Action

The Larkin Company will be updating leave packets to include 2021 notices and updates. Impacted employees will be notified by your leave administrator.

Larkin will adjust employees’ payment top-up calculation and/or benefit payments accordingly.

*Reminder: All employees will be eligible for MA PFML on or after 1/1/2021 regardless if their leave started in 2020.

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Larkin Considerations

If your payroll manages leave pay or STD administration internally, your Larkin Administrator can provide you a list of impacted employees as calculations will need to be adjusted.

Educate HR and Payroll teams – review eligibility, reasons employees can use PFML, and impacts to your current policy.

Should you wish to update your existing Medical and Family Care Leave or leave pay policies, please contact your Account Manager.

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2021 Legislative updates by state

Select a state from the map below to view a consolidated version of information provided throughout the year.

New Jersey

Only small changes for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and thankfully no more big changes for Family Leave Insurance (FLI).
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New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI)

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What are the Updates?

Effective January 1, 2021:

Employees will receive up to 85% of their average weekly wage, with the maximum weekly benefit increasing to $903.

Employees’ contribution rate will increase 0.47% with a maximum annual contribution of $649.54.

Effective July 1, 2021:

12 weeks of paid family leave (family member with a serious health condition) 

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Handbook/Policy Updates

Updates to your company handbook may need to be made if you include state-specific benefits information.

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Notice Requirements

Larkin recommends an employer to employee notice to communicate changes in contributions rates for your NJ population.
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Larkin Action

The Larkin Company will be updating leave packets to include 2021 notices and updates. Impacted employees will be notified by your leave administrator.

Larkin will adjust employees’ payment top-up calculation and/or benefit payments accordingly.

*Reminder: claims that start in 2020 will be awarded 2020 benefit rates. Claims that begin on or after January 1, 2021 will be eligible for the new benefits.

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Larkin Considerations

We recommend you confirm with your payroll team that they have updated your payroll system to collect the increased employee contributions.
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2021 Legislative updates by state

Select a state from the map below to view a consolidated version of information provided throughout the year.

Leave administrator working with client

New York

New York has had a long-standing disability benefit and rolled out their Paid Family Leave (PFL) program in 2018. The NY PFL benefits and contributions have gradually increased over a planned 4-year span (2021 concludes the phase benefits).
Leave administrator working with client

New York Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits

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What are the Updates?

Effective January 1, 2021:

Employees will receive up to 67% of their average weekly wage with the maximum weekly benefit increasing to $971.61. The duration for leave will also increase to a maximum of 12 weeks.

Employees’ contribution rate will increase 0.51% with a maximum annual contribution of $385.34.

Effective July 1, 2021:

12 weeks of paid family leave (family member with a serious health condition) 

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Handbook/Policy Updates

We recommend updates to your company handbook and leave policy since NY PFL is a job-protected pay benefit.

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Notice Requirements

We recommend an employer to employee notice to communicate changes in contributions rates for your NY population. (link below).

Confirm you have your “Notice of Compliance” poster accessible to employees (carriers will provide; if self-insured you will need to contact the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board at certificates@wcb.ny.gov).  

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Larkin Action

The Larkin Company will be updating leave packets to include 2021 notices and updates. Impacted employees will be notified by your leave administrator.

Larkin will adjust employees’ payment top-up calculation and/or benefit payments accordingly.

*Reminder: claims that start in 2020 will be awarded 2020 benefit rates. Claims that begin on or after January 1, 2021 will be eligible for the new benefits. Exception: those who exhausted their 10 weeks of PFL in 2020 may be eligible for an additional two weeks if they experience a new qualifying event or if more than three months has passed since the last day of leave their original Paid Family Leave claim.

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Larkin Considerations

We recommend you confirm with your payroll team that they have updated your payroll system to collect the increased employee contributions.
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2021 Legislative updates by state

Select a state from the map below to view a consolidated version of information provided throughout the year.

Washington

Washington is celebrating their first Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) anniversary! While the start was rough, the state has been working hard to provide a great service to Washingtonians.

Washington Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) benefits

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What are the Updates?

Effective January 1, 2021:

Employees will continue to get up to 90% of their pay with an increased maximum weekly benefit of $1206.

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Handbook/Policy Updates

Updates to your company handbook may need to be made if you include state-specific benefits information. 

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Notice Requirements

Provide updated 2021 Poster (see link below).
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Larkin Action

The Larkin Company will be updating leave packets to include 2021 notices and updates. Impacted employees will be notified by your leave administrator.

Larkin will adjust employees’ payment top-up calculation and/or benefit payments accordingly.

*Reminder: claims that start in 2020 will be awarded 2020 benefit rates. Claims that begin on or after January 1, 2021 will be eligible for the new benefit rate.

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Larkin Considerations

Not Applicable.

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2021 Legislative updates by state

Select a state from the map below to view a consolidated version of information provided throughout the year.

Appendix

Definition/explanation of key terms:

COVID – federal, state, and municipal agencies have created laws that protects employees impacted by COVID-19. These new paid sick leave laws offer job protected paid sick leave for COVID-related reasons such as school closure, quarantine, and illness. For example, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is the Federal law that applies to private employers with 50 to 500 employees.

Paid Family and Medical Leave – states continue to rally for and pass legislation that offer wage replacement benefits for family care and medical reasons. Additionally, some states offer greater benefits than others, such as job-protection.

US Leave Law Updates – states continue to review their unpaid leave laws. These laws typically offer job and benefit protections for medical and family care-related reasons, similar to the federal unpaid Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). As the landscape changes (such as new PSL and PFML benefits), it requires law makers to reassess and attempt to align the unpaid leave laws with the new benefits to avoid contradictions and other impacts when similar laws are implemented.

Disclaimer

The Larkin Company is providing this information for general informational purposes and as a courtesy only. All information is provided in good faith and based on readily available information from various sources. We have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the information provided and any accompanying resources are accurate and provide valuable information. However we make no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information provided in the document.

This document does not contain, nor should it be construed or substituted for legal advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information provided herein, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. The Larkin Company does not provide legal advice of any kind. The use or reliance of any information contained in this is solely at your own risk. Neither the Larkin Company nor any of its agents or employees shall be held liable or responsible for any inaccuracy, errors or omissions contained herein or for any damage you may suffer as a result of failing to seek competent legal advice from a licensed attorney.

Updated: January 4, 2021