October 21, 2022

COVID-19 and Federal/State Updates

U.S. Federal Updates

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC has released an updated ‘Know Your Rights’ poster. The poster describes laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex (including pregnancy and related conditions, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, religion, age (40 and older), equal pay, disability or genetic information (including family medical history or genetic tests or services). Employers are required to post the poster in a conspicuous location in the workplace where notices to applicants and employees are customarily posted, and employers are encouraged to post digitally on their websites in a conspicuous location. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that notices of Federal laws prohibiting job discrimination be made available in a location that is accessible to applicants and employees with disabilities that limit mobility. Printed notices should also be made available in an accessible format to those with disabilities that limit the ability to see or read. Here are the links to the posters:

Social Security Administration (SSA)

The SSA has released updates for 2023. The cost of living adjustment (COLA) will be 8.7% for benefits payable to Social Security beneficiaries starting in January. The taxable wage base is increasing from $147,000 to $160,200. As an FYI, many state benefit programs cap contributions from their respective programs at the maximum Social Security wage base. You can read the press release from the SSA here.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

President Biden signed the Civilian Reservist Emergency Workforce (CREW) Act into law at the end of September. The CREW Act amends the Stafford Act (provides for federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments) as well as USERRA. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) reservists will now be afforded rights under USERRA (reemployment rights and protection against adverse employment decisions) when they are deployed to disasters and emergencies on behalf of FEMA. For more details, there are FAQs and a fact sheet If you need a refresher on USERRA, go here for information and resources.

U.S. State Updates

California

Governor Newsom has announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency will end on February 28, 2023 (after almost three years!). The timing allows for a possible holiday season surge of COVID cases.

Colorado

In case you are looking for even more information on Colorado’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance program (FAMLI), the Department of Labor & Employment (DLE) has published their Standard FAMLI Regional Town Hall presentation deck. As you’ll see in the deck, employers will be required to register in “My FAMLI+” in Q1 of 2023 and Q1 reports are due April 30, 2023.

The required poster for the FAMLI program is now available as well as a paycheck stuffer for your employees. The poster must be posted in a prominent location in the workplace and be provided to employees upon hire and when an employee experiences an event that triggers eligibility under the program. We have confirmed with the DLE that the poster may also be posted on your internet and sent via email to employees.

New Hampshire

We discussed the New Hampshire Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program in our previous newsletter. As a reminder, participation in the program is optional for employers, and employees may opt into the program if their employer chooses not to participate. We wanted to make you aware that we have more details about the program on our website. Metlife, as the administrator of the state’s program, and the state will continue to provide more guidance regarding the NH PFML program. Employers with brokers may request a quote from MetLife now, and beginning December 1, 2022, employers who do not currently have a broker will be able to request a quote if they are considering enrolling in the PFML plan. We also confirmed with the state that even though there is an employee flyer for this program, there is no legal requirement to proactively inform employees of the program at this time.

Washington

The Employment Security Department (ESD) has released the 2023 premium rate for the Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program. The rate is increasing from 0.6% to 0.8%. The contribution is capped at the social security cap for 2023 which, as noted above, will be $160,200. Employers (with 50 or more employees) will pay 27.24% of the total premium while employees will pay 72.76%. You’ll want to notify your employees of the new rate starting January 1, 2023 (a new paycheck insert is not yet available). The ESD will be sending letters to employers in November regarding the upcoming change and they will have more resources available by the end of the year (an updated premium calculator and additional reporting information).

No word yet as far as an updated maximum weekly benefit for 2023. We’ll continue to monitor and will keep you posted.

 

Canada Federal Update

The Employment Insurance Sickness benefits, which currently provide 15 weeks of income replacement benefits, are projected to increase to 26 weeks of benefits by the end of 2022. We will continue to monitor this update and confirm once the change occurs.

Employment Insurance (EI) Federal Benefits

Effective January 1, 2023, the maximum insurable earnings (MIE) for EI benefits increases from $60,300 to $61,500. This is the maximum income level up to which EI premiums are paid. The employee premium rate will be $1.63 per $100 in 2023 ($2.28 for employers). Considering the updated MIE and premium rate, insured workers in 2023 will be subject to a maximum annual EI premium of $1,002.45 (compared with $952.74 in 2022).

Quebec residents, in 2023, will be subject to a premium rate of $1.27 per $100 of insurable earnings. The lower EI premium accounts for the province administering QPIP, its own parental insurance plan. The 2023 QPIP reduction is 36 cents. Employers pay 1.4 times the employee premium rate. For employers in Quebec, the premium rate for 2023 is $1.78 per $100 of insurable earnings.

Here is a table which summarizes the premiums rates for 2023:

Contributor Premium rate (per $100 of insurable earnings) Maximum annual contribution 2023 Difference in maximum annual contribution from 2022
Workers $1.63 $1,002.45 $49.71
Employers $2.28 $1,403.43 $69.59
Workers residing in Quebec $1.27 $781.05 $57.45
Employers in Quebec $1.78 $1,093.47 $80.43

Due to the increased MIE income level, the maximum weekly EI benefit rate will increase from $638 per week in 2022 to $650 per week for EI claims that start in 2023. Note: the extended plan benefits for parental leave are expected to increase from $383 per week in 2022, to $390 per week in 2023.

For more information regarding the changes referenced above, please see here.

Canada Provincial Update

Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP)

What about QPIP for Quebec employees? Well…premium rates for the QPIP program will remain the same in 2023, as in 2022.

The maximum insurable earnings (MIE) amount updates each year, as it does for federal EI benefits. As a result of this change, the maximum weekly QPIP benefit updates also. We will continue to keep an eye out for when the new MIE is released (typically released in mid-December) and we will provide this information to our clients as soon as possible.

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