October 10, 2022

COVID-19 and Federal/State Updates

U.S. State (and D.C.) Updates

California

We wanted to provide some additional information/clarification regarding two of the bills passed into law last week by Governor Newsom’s signature. When it comes to AB 1949 (requires employers with 5 or more employees to provide 5 days of bereavement leave), the 5 days of bereavement is separate from other leave reasons available to employees under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). In other words, if a person takes 5 days of bereavement leave under CFRA, they still have 12 weeks remaining to take leave for other qualified reasons. As far as SB 951, we wanted to clarify that in 2025, the benefit percentage will not only increase to 90% for lower income workers (those earnings 70% or less than the state average quarterly wage), the percentage for all others will increase to 70%.

San Francisco

We thought we would share some resources regarding the Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance that went into effect on October 1, 2022. The Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) has published FAQs regarding the ordinance. You may want to bookmark the Department of Public Health’s website which provides current public health declarations in San Francisco as well as the Spare the Air site for air quality emergencies.

Colorado

Another reminder that contributions for Colorado’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI) begin on January 1, 2023 with benefits available starting on January 1, 2024.

The FAMLI Toolkit for Employers can be found here and includes a break room poster and pay stub sample that we’ve shared previously.

District of Columbia

A quick note that the District’s COVID Vaccination Leave Temporary Amendment Act of 2021 expired as of October 1, 2022. The temporary act extended employees’ entitlement to paid time off for COVID-19 vaccination and recovery from any side effects. There’s no indication at this time that another law will be passed to continue paid time for employees for COVID vaccination and any related side effects.

The Department of Employment Services (DOES) has released the new maximum weekly benefit for the District’s Paid Family Leave program. The weekly benefit is increasing from $1,009 to $1,049 for claims that begin on or after October 1, 2022. The DOES has also released an updated employee notice. The notice not only includes the updated maximum weekly benefit, but also mentions the increased duration for parental, family, and medical leave to 12 weeks. As a reminder, notice must be provided at the time of hire, at least once a year, and when an employee requests leave.

Massachusetts

The Department of Family and Medical Leave has released updates for 2023 for the Commonwealth’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. The maximum weekly benefit will increase from $1,084.31 to $1,129.82. The contribution rate will decrease from 0.68% to 0.63%.

You may recall from a couple of months ago that an amendment to the fiscal year 2023 budget would have allowed employees to supplement PFML benefits with “any accrued sick or vacation pay or other paid leave provided under an employer policy.” There was some back and forth between Governor Baker and the legislature. The Governor vetoed the change and the House of Representatives overrode the veto, but unfortunately, the Senate did not follow suit. Therefore, employees are not able to “top up” PFML benefits. We’ll see what happens in 2023.

New Hampshire

If you would like to learn more about the New Hampshire Paid Family and Medical Leave program, (aka “The First Voluntary PFML Plan in the Nation”), there is a website where you can explore the program further. The program begins January 1, 2023 with open enrollment for employers starting December 1, 2022 and an employee open enrollment period from January 1, 2023 through March 2, 2023. The site has FAQs and you can download a flyer to share with others. They are developing an Employer Toolkit that will be available soon. The Larkin Company will also provide more guidance for employers regarding this unique program in the coming weeks.

New Jersey

The Department of Labor & Workforce Development has released proposed rule changes for 2023 for the state’s Temporary Disability Benefits and Family Leave Insurance programs. Here are the proposed numbers for 2023:

  • The employee taxable wage base for both programs will increase from $151,900 to: $156,800.
  • The employer taxable wage base will increase from $36,200 to $41,100. 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 $993 to $1,025.

The changes above are proposed and are subject to change (we’ll let you know the final outcome). Further updates regarding the employee contribution rate and taxable wage base should be available in November – we will keep you posted.

Oregon

As a reminder, contributions for the Paid Leave Oregon program begin on January 1, 2023.

The model notice (poster) for the program is now available and employers are required to post the model notice at each work site, as well as provide it electronically or by mail to any remote workers. Posters must be displayed or sent out no later than January 1, 2023. Additionally, a Benefits Fact Sheet has been published as well as a handy Employer Guidebook with lots of great information.

Page 4 of the guidebook provides information regarding registering for Paid Leave Oregon:

All Oregon employers are required to complete a combined employer’s registration process through the Secretary of State or Oregon Employment Department. Registration for Paid Leave Oregon will be included in the process automatically. If you have already registered and have an active Business Identification Number (BIN), you are already included in Paid Leave Oregon and will be able to start reporting wages and paying contributions when the program starts.

The link to the registration website (Frances Online) can be found here. See “Sign Up for Employer Access”.

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