COVID-19 and State Updates

October 11, 2021

U.S. Federal Update

National Paid Family Leave?

Could it be? National Paid Family Leave…finally? The Build Back Better Act (part of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation packet) is working its way through the legislature and would include, among other things, a national paid leave program. The Ways and Means Committee released the bill text last month for Universal Paid Family and Medical Leave.

The hope is that the taxpayer-funded program will be available as of July 2023. Here are the details as they currently stand:

  • Up to 1 2 weeks of paid leave for an employee’s medical leave or to care for an ill family member.
  • Up to 3 days of paid leave for bereavement.
  • Covers all full-time and part-time employees as well as independent contractors.
  • Employer size is not a factor – those with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for assistance grants.
  • Benefit amount based on percentage of lost wages – 85% for the lowest-income employees and just 5% of wages for employees earning up to $250,000.
  • States with established paid family and medical leave programs may receive grants to reimburse costs of their programs.
  • Employers may receive reimbursement if they have a plan that is as good or better than the public plan.

We’ll see what happens and we will keep you posted. More to come…

U.S. State Updates

California

Employment Development Department

For our clients with Voluntary Plans, you may have received the recent email from the Employment Development Department pertaining to the required Plan Text that has been delayed. We will continue to use our current format for 2022 Voluntary Plan documents.

As far as the contribution rate, weekly benefit amount, and taxable wage ceiling for 2022, we will send an update once the final numbers are released later this month.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

There will be one significant change to CFRA for 2022 which pales in comparison to the many changes that went into effect January 1, 2021. As of January 1, 2022, employees will be able to take leave to provide care to a parent-in-law with a serious health condition.

COVID-19 State Law & Ordinances

The California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) Law expired September 30, 2021 as have ordinances for the City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. There are no plans to extend SPSL or the ordinances at this time.

Connecticut

The Connecticut Paid Leave program has released an updated Employer Toolkit to help you prepare for 2022 when benefits are available for employees in the state.

District of Columbia

The District has updated the maximum weekly benefit to $1,009 for Paid Family Leave claims with a start date of September 26, 2021 or later.

The Department of Employment Services is working on an updated Paid Family Leave poster that will be made available by late fall of 2021. The updated poster must be posted in the premises at which any covered employee is employed by February 1, 2022. The poster will include updates we noted in our previous newsletter.

Mayor Bowser has extended the COVID-19 public emergency until January 7, 2022. The order may be found here. We will monitor the Office of Human Rights website for an updated poster and will share once it’s available.

Massachusetts

Governor Baker signed legislation that extends the state’s COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave. Enacted in May and due to expire September 30, 2021, the law is now in effect to April 1, 2022. The details of the law may be found in our June 4, 2021 newsletter. They did make one change to the original law – employees will now be able to use the leave to care for a family member who is obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination or is recovering from an injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the vaccination. The cap of 40 total hours for this leave remains – meaning, employees who may have already used their 40 hours are not entitled to further time under the extension. FAQs for this program may be found here.

The Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has announced changes for 2022. The maximum weekly benefit will increase from $850 per week to $1,084.31 per week and the contribution rate will decrease from .75% to .68%.

Missouri

The required notice for the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA) is available and must be provided to current employees by October 27, 2021 and to new hires on an ongoing basis.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) released 2022 information for New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) programs. Here are the numbers:

  • Contribution rate will decrease from 0.47% to 0.14% for TDI and from 0.28% to 0.14% for FLI.
  • The employee taxable base for both programs will be $151,900 which means the maximum employee contribution will be $212.66 for each program ($425.32 total).
  • The taxable wage base for employers will increase from $36,200 to $39,800. Employees contribute to the cost of Family Leave Insurance. Both employers and employees contribute to the cost of Temporary Disability Insurance.
  • The maximum weekly benefit will increase from $903 to $993.
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