COVID-19 and State/Federal Updates

June 17, 2022

U.S. State Updates

Alabama

Quick reminder that the Adoption Promotion Act goes into effect on July 1, 2022. To read the details regarding, please refer to our previous newsletter.

California

San Francisco

It’s been over a year since the San Francisco Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) expired. Well, guess what’s back and now permanent as of October 1, 2022? Voters in the city by the bay have approved Proposition G, which adds some new twists to the original PHELO. For one, not only will it provide leave for a pandemic like COVID-19, it will also provide leave for “old” statewide health emergencies like contagious, infectious, or communicable disease. Wait, there’s more! “Public Health Emergency” also includes an air quality emergency – employees who are members of a vulnerable population (defined as a person who has been diagnosed with heart or lung disease, has respiratory problems, is pregnant, or is age 60 or older) and primarily work outdoors can use this leave as well. This leave is in addition to leave required under San Francisco’s paid sick leave ordinance.

The ordinance applies to employers with 100 or more employees worldwide (except certain non-profits) and to employees who work within the geographic boundaries of San Francisco.

Employees may use PHEL if they are unable to work due to any of the following:

  1. The recommendations or requirements of an individual or general federal, state, or local health order related to the public health emergency.
  2. The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to isolate or quarantine.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of and seeking a medical diagnosis, or has received a positive medical diagnosis, for a possible infectious, contagious, or communicable disease associated with the public health emergency.
  4. The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order described in #1, has been advised as described in #2, or is experiencing symptoms as described in #3.
  5. The employee is caring for a family member if the school or place of care of the family member has been closed, or the care provider is unavailable due to the public health emergency.
  6. An air quality emergency, if the employee is a member of a vulnerable population and primarily works outdoors.

As of October 1, 2022 and through the end of 2022, full-time employees are entitled to PHEL hours equal to the number of hours they regularly work over a one-week period, not to exceed 40 hours. Those with varying schedules are entitled to PHEL hours equal to the average number of hours worked over a one-week period during the previous calendar year, not to exceed 40 hours.

As of January 1, 2023, and subsequent years, employees are entitled to PHEL hours equal to the number of hours they work or take paid leave over a two-week period, capped at 80 hours.

There will be a required notice that we will share once it’s available. The notice will need to be posted at the workplace and where feasible via electronic communication (email, text, and/or employer’s web-based or app-based platform).

If an employer is required to provide notice to employees regarding paid sick leave under California law, they must also indicate the amount of PHEL hours available to an employee (on the paystub or other mandatory written notice). If an employer has unlimited paid leave or paid time off, the employer may satisfy this requirement by indicating “unlimited” on the paystub or other written notice.

The Office of Labor Standard Enforcement will likely issue guidance regarding PHEL that we will share once it’s available.

Connecticut

The required notice (as of July 1, 2022) for Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) is now available. The notice also speaks to employee rights under the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA). The notice must also be provided annually to employees as well as to new hires.

Don’t forget, the maximum weekly benefit under the Connecticut Paid Leave program is increasing to $840 starting July 1, 2022.

District of Columbia

You may recall this newsletter where we mentioned upcoming changes to the District’s Paid Family Leave program. The District of Columbia Council has passed the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Support Act of 2022 (now heads to Mayor Breed for signature*). The reduction to the employer-only contribution is moving ahead as planned. As of July 1, 2022, employers will contribute a reduced rate of 0.26% of an employee’s salary.

The plan to increase the duration for qualifying parental, medical and family leave to 12 workweeks** within a 12-month period is still a go but will not take effect until October 1, 2022.

The maximum number of workweeks an employee can take for pre-natal leave remains 2 workweeks.

As far as the waiting period before benefits are payable for a claim, the temporary elimination of the waiting period due to the public health emergency (COVID-19) is set to expire February 15, 2023 (updated – previously noted as expiring April 16, 2023). However, the District’s budget will make the elimination of the waiting period permanent.

*The budget will also head to Congress for a 30-day review period before it becomes effective.

**An employee who takes prenatal leave and parental leave can receive a total of 14 workweeks. If an employee takes prenatal leave and medical leave, they will be limited to 12 workweeks.

Illinois

The Land of Lincoln has passed the Family Bereavement Leave Act (SB 3120), which requires employers who are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide up to 2 weeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave to eligible employees (same requirements as FMLA) for the following reasons:

  1. To attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of a covered family member;
  2. To make arrangements necessitated by the death of the covered family member;
  3. To grieve the death of the covered family member; or
  4. To be absent from work due to (i) a miscarriage; (ii) an unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure; (iii) a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party; (iv) a failed surrogacy agreement; (v) a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility; or (vi) a stillbirth.

A covered family member is defined as an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.

Employers may, but are not required to, request reasonable documentation specific to the leave reason. Employers may not require an employee to specifically identify the reason for leave for any of those listed under #4 above (the Illinois Department of Labor will create a form specifically for health care practitioners to complete for these situations).

In the event of the death of more than one covered family member in a 12-month period, an employee is entitled to up to 6 weeks of bereavement leave during that 12-month period.

The law goes into effect as of January 1, 2023.

New Mexico

You may remember the New Mexico Healthy Workplaces Act (HB 20) which we discussed in detail here. The law is effective July 1, 2022 and the required notice is now available: English and Spanish. The notice can be provided in writing or electronically.

Oregon

The Oregon Employment Department has released the contribution rate for the Paid Leave Oregon program. Starting January 1, 2023, employees will pay 60% and employers will pay 40% of a combined 1% contribution rate. Employers have the option to pay the required employee contributions. The taxable wage ceiling for 2023 will be $132,900. Paid Leave Oregon has released a fact sheet regarding the upcoming contribution.

Canada Provincial Update

Alberta

Bill 17, Labour Statutes Amendment Act, 2022, received Royal Assent on May 31, 2022, thus making amendments to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code.

Bereavement Leave

Employees in Alberta are eligible for three days of unpaid bereavement leave, upon the death of a family member, during each calendar year. That is, if they have been employed by the same employer for 90 days. Bill 17 has expanded the reasons for which an employee can take bereavement leave. An eligible employee can now also take leave if their pregnancy, or their spouse’s or common-law partner’s pregnancy, ends in other than a live birth. Additionally, the employee can take leave if a person’s pregnancy ends in other than a live birth and the employee would have been a parent of that child. This also includes the end of a pregnancy due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. Bereavement leave will also be available should such an event occur to eligible employees who are biological and adoptive parents, and parents whose children are being carried by gestational carriers/surrogates.

Reservist Leave

Bill 17 also expanded the duration of leave available to those in need of reservist leave for military training purposes. An individual was previously limited to “an amount up to 20 days per calendar year” for military training. However, this limit has been removed, and employees who have 12 consecutive weeks of service with a company may now take as much reservist leave as is necessary to attend the training.

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