U.S. State Updates
Louisiana is the latest state to amend its pregnancy accommodation law. SB 215 was enacted June 24, 2021 and will go into effect as of August 1, 2021. Similar to other laws throughout the country, SB 215 will require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, postpartum, or related medical conditions. The only exception, of course, is if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Employers are required to provide written notice of the right to be free from discrimination based on medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to new employees and to existing employees prior to December 1, 2021. Notice must be conspicuously posted at an employer’s place of business in an area that is accessible to employees – the law does not indicate that the notice may be provided electronically. We will let you know when the notice is available.
The Granite State nickname is being put to good use with the recently enacted Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan (aka Family and Medical Leave Insurance). Funding for the program was included in the budget signed by Governor Sununu on June 25, 2021. The kicker with this program is that coverage is only required for permanent state employees while it’s voluntary for private employers and employees.
Employers who do participate may pay premiums on behalf of their employees or take contributions from their employees. Employers who sponsor the program will receive a tax credit of 50% of premiums paid. Individual employees may choose to purchase coverage if the employer does not offer the plan to its employees. Employers with over 50 employees must allow employees to use payroll deductions to pay for the plan. Further, employers (with 50 or more employees) would have to continue health insurance for employees during their leave, as well as restore them to the same or equivalent position following their leave.
Another interesting aspect of this program is that the state will be contracting with an insurance carrier (or carriers) to provide Family and Medical Leave Insurance coverage. Other details:
- Benefit rate will be 60% of an employee’s average weekly wage, subject to a cap (TBD)
- Duration of leave is 6 weeks per year (no minimum duration required)
- Birth of a child of the employee or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or fostering within the past 12 months;
- Serious health condition of a family member. Family member is defined as child, biological, adoptive or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of the child or the child’s spouse or domestic partner, a biological, adoptive, or foster grandparent or step grandparent, or a spouse or domestic partner;
- Qualifying exigency arising from foreign deployment with the armed forces or to care for a service member with a serious injury or illness as permitted under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act; or,
- Serious health condition of the employee that isn’t related to employment and the employer does not offer Short Term Disability insurance.
The law is effective as of July 1, 2021, request for proposals will be issued by March 31, 2022, and coverage will be in place by January 1, 2023.
There will be more to come with this unique program; we’ll keep you updated.
The long-awaited poster for the July 1, 2021 update to the Virginia Human Rights Act has been released. Employers must post the poster in a conspicuous location and include in any employee handbook information concerning an employee’s rights to reasonable accommodation for disabilities. Additionally, the poster must be provided to (i) new employees upon hire, and (ii) any employee within 10 days of such employee providing notice to the employer that such employee has a disability. Please see our March 18, 2021 newsletter for details on the recent change.