April 28, 2023

Upcoming Webinar and U.S. Updates

Family Care Benefits: How to present a business case

Your employees have kids and parents who need their help—whether the economy is booming or uncertain. What are family care benefits and how do they make a difference to your business? This 30-minute webinar will highlight two companies’ use cases and the executive conversations behind the rollout. These two HR leaders will explain how to convert your wish list for childcare and eldercare benefits into a compelling business case.

Join us on May 12th by registering here.

State Updates

California

Employment Development Department (EDD) – Top Larkin Tip!

We wanted to remind employers regarding the topic of employer pay integration with State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits: SDI and PFL claims are often denied by the EDD when there are questions as to whether the employee is receiving full wages from the employer during their leave of absence.

We’ve been advised that unless an employer is on the Less State Disability Insurance (LSDI) or Less Paid Family Leave (LPFL) list that the EDD maintains, a wage investigation of claims will be required. The EDD essentially wants to make sure that if employers are topping up an employee’s pay (e.g., via salary continuation or PTO), that employees are not receiving more than their normal weekly pay. Employers can be added to the LSDI/LPFL list by calling (855) 342-3645. You can also find more information here (see “Employers” section).

We highly recommend registering on the LSDI/LPFL list, as it saves employers time in having to respond to the EDD on individual cases (that have been or could be denied), and more importantly, reduces the number of unnecessary denials for employees who are going through a significant period in their lives, such as recovering from childbirth, caring for a newborn, personal or family medical issues.

Maryland

You may recall this newsletter in which we provided details of Maryland’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program that survived former Governor Hogan’s veto last year. As our previous newsletter states, contributions for the program were going to begin on October 1, 2023, with benefits payable starting January 1, 2025.

Big changes are in store per Senate Bill 828 which current Governor Moore is expected to sign into law. SB 828 will delay the start of contributions to the program to October 1, 2024, and employees will not be able to apply for benefits until January 1, 2026. The contribution will be a 50/50 split between employers and employees and may not exceed 1.2% of an employee’s wages. Additionally, employers have the option to pay the employee portion of contributions if they wish. The taxable wage base for employees will be capped at the maximum social security wage base. The rate, which will be determined by the state’s Department of Labor by October 1, 2023, will be in effect from October 1, 2024 to June 30, 2026.

We mentioned previously a quirky rule in the law that would have required employees to exhaust all employer-paid leave. Fortunately, that requirement is being repealed, and the law will be similar to other paid leave programs. Employees and employers may agree to the use of accrued paid leave (PTO) to supplement the MD leave benefits to an employee’s full pay. Employers may also choose to top-up an employee’s MD benefits to full pay via their own paid leave programs (e.g., salary continuation and/or STD). Good news all around!

Virginia

Employees in the Old Dominion state will be able to take unpaid leave for organ and bone marrow donation starting July 1, 2023. SB 1086, signed into law by Governor Youngkin earlier this month, requires employers (with 50 or more employees) to provide up to 60 business days of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for organ donation and up to 30 business days of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for bone marrow donation.

Employees are eligible for the leave provided they have been employed with their employer for at least a 12-month period and have worked 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. Employees must provide written physician verification that the employee is an organ or bone marrow donor and that there is a medical necessity for the donation.

Similar to other organ/bone marrow donation laws, leave under this law will not run concurrently with leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). There is nothing in the law that prohibits employees from using paid sick leave or other paid time off while using unpaid leave under the law. Employers must maintain group health insurance coverage for the duration of an employee’s leave. Employees are also entitled to job restoration (to the same or an equivalent position) upon their return from leave.

Washington

If part of your workforce includes gig workers or “app-based” workers, you should know that Seattle Mayor Harrell made permanent the rights and obligations of the formerly temporary Gig Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (PSST). The ordinance was passed in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. The permanent law goes into effect on May 1, 2023. App-based workers will be able to receive PSST pay based on their average daily compensation for each day worked. More details:

  • Beginning on May 1, 2023, the law applies to food delivery network company workers who work for a network company that hires more than 250 workers (worldwide).
  • As of January 13, 2024, the law applies to all app-based workers who work at a network company that hires more than 250 workers (worldwide).
  • Workers accrue one day of PSST for every 30 days, with at least one work-related stop in Seattle.
  • Workers may utilize PSST when they have worked in Seattle at least once in the past 90 calendar days.
  • PSST may be taken for any reason under the ordinance, including but not limited to:
    • Caring for themselves or a family member for a physical or mental health condition, including a doctor’s appointment.
    • Caring for themselves, a family member, or a household member for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
    • When their family member’s school or place of care is closed.
    • If the company reduces, suspends, or discontinues operations for health or safety related reasons.
  • The calculation of average daily compensation will include earnings for services performed in Seattle and outside Seattle. The rate of average daily compensation will be recalculated every calendar month.
  • Covered entities may request reasonable verification from the worker for PSST for absences more than 3 consecutive days.
  • Covered entities will need to have a written PSST policy and procedure as well as provide no less than monthly notification of the workers’ average daily compensation, and accrued, used, and available PSST.

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards will release explanatory guidance and rulemaking in the coming months. If you would like to be included in a list of stakeholders to receive information on rulemaking, you can email laborstandards@seattle.gov.

There is another bill that will likely be signed by Governor Inslee soon. Substitute House Bill 1570 also pertains to gig or app-based workers, but this one is geared towards transportation network companies (a company that uses a digital network to connect passengers with drivers to provide prearranged rides). Essentially, this bill creates a pilot program (developed and administered by the Employment Security Department) that would require transportation network companies to pay workers an amount equal to their self-employment premiums for the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. This would only apply to workers who have elected coverage in PFML. The pilot program will begin July 1, 2024, and continue to December 31, 2028.

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