July 28, 2023

U.S. and Canada Updates

Federal Update

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC has released an updated technical assistance document: “Visual Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act”. The document discusses how the ADA applies to job applicants and employees with visual disabilities.

State Updates

Connecticut

Governor Lamont signed SB 2 into law recently which will allow covered employees to utilize paid sick leave for two additional reasons starting October 1, 2023. Covered employees will be able to use their sick time to attend to their emotional and psychological well-being (aka mental health day). Currently, paid sick time may be used when a covered employee is a victim of family violence or sexual assault (“safe leave”). SB 2 expands safe leave further by allowing a service worker who is the parent or guardian of a child who is a victim of family violence or sexual assault (provided the covered employee is not the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator) to use paid sick leave to care for the child. Safe leave would include medical and/or psychological care, counseling, seeking services from a victim services organization, relocation, and participating in civil or criminal proceedings. Connecticut’s Paid Sick and Safe Leave law is unique in that it applies to “service workers” (covered employees) which covers a wide range of industries – from food service to retail to healthcare (see the definition starting on page 11 of the law for more details).

Delaware

It’s been over a year since we provided information on Delaware’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (also known as the Healthy Delaware Families Act). You can refresh your memory with our newsletter from April 2022. Quick reminder, that contributions for this program are due to start January 1, 2025 with benefits available as of January 1, 2026. The Delaware Department of Labor now has a page on their website devoted to “Delaware Paid Leave”. You can read the recently published regulations. If you have questions or would like to set up a presentation, you can email PFML@delaware.gov. A portal opens on October 1, 2023 to allow employers to grandfather existing paid time off benefits (see section 17.5.2 of the regulations for more details).

Louisiana

As of August 1, 2023, employers in Louisiana will be required to provide employees with a day’s leave of absence to obtain (medically necessary) genetic testing or preventive cancer screening. Employees must provide at least 15 days of notice to their employer and provide supporting documentation to their employer, if requested. Pay is not required, but employees may use any accrued vacation or other paid time off. There will be a required notice for the workplace that we will share when it becomes available. You can read the bill here.

Maine

Maine’s legislature passed and Governor Mills signed a budget bill that includes a Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program (L.D. 258). The Pine Tree State joins Minnesota as states that have passed PFML laws in 2023. Contributions for the program will begin January 1, 2025 with benefits available as of May 1, 2026. The state’s Department of Labor will administer the program. Here are the current details of the new program: Program Funding

  • 1% contribution rate evenly split between the employee and the employer.
  • Contributions are required up to the contribution and benefit base limit established annually by the Social Security Administration.
  • Employers with 15 or fewer employees do not have to remit the employer portion of the contribution.

Covered Employee and Employers

  • All employees (private or public and full- and part-time) are covered with the exception of federal employees. Self-employed and independent contractors will need to elect coverage. A covered individual is one who has earned at least 6 times the state average weekly wage in the individual’s base period (the first 4 calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of an individual’s benefit year).

Leave Reasons

  • To bond with the covered individual’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the first 12 months after the placement of the child for adoption or foster care with the covered individual.
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition.
    • Family member: regardless of age, a biological, adopted, foster, or stepchild, or a child to whom the covered individual, spouse or domestic partner of the covered individual stands in loco parentis, or a child the covered individual or spouse or domestic partner of the covered individual has under legal guardianship, or any individual to whom the the covered individual or spouse or domestic partner of the covered individual stood in any of these relationships when the individual was a minor child; parent (biological, adoptive, foster, step parent, de facto parent or legal guardian or a person who stood in loco parentis when the covered individual or spouse or domestic partner of the covered individual was a minor child); grandparent (biological, adoptive, foster, step grandparent or de facto grandparent); grandchild (biological, adoptive, foster, step grandchild or de facto grandchild); sibling (biological, adoptive, foster, step sibling or de facto sibling); spouse or domestic partner; a designated individual with whom the covered individual has a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship, regardless of biological or legal relationship.
  • To attend to a qualifying emergency.
  • To care for a family member of the covered individual who is a covered service member.
  • To take safe leave.
  • Any other leave reason per Maine’s Family Medical Leave requirements which include:
    • The serious health condition of the employee.
    • The birth of the employee’s child or the employee’s domestic partner’s child.
    • The placement of a child 16 years of age or less with the employee or with the employee’s domestic partner in connection with the adoption of the child by the employee or the employee’s domestic partner.
    • To care for a child, domestic partner’s child, grandchild, domestic partner’s grandchild, parent, domestic partner, sibling, or spouse with a serious health condition.
    • The donation of an organ of that employee for a human organ transplant.
    • The death or serious health condition of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, or child if the spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling or child as a member of the state military forces or the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, dies or incurs a serious health condition while on active duty.

Leave Entitlement

  • Employees may not take more than 12 weeks of family leave in an application year nor are they able to take more than 12 weeks of medical leave in an application year. If they take both leaves in an application year, they are entitled to an aggregate of 12 weeks of leave. An application year is the 12-month period beginning on the first day of the calendar week immediately preceding the date on which family or medical leave benefits commence.

Amount of Benefits

  • The maximum weekly benefit will be the state average weekly wage.
  • The formula for calculating an employee’s benefit amount is as follows:
    • 90% of the covered individual’s average weekly wage that is equal to or less than 50% of the state average weekly wage and 66% of the covered individual’s average weekly wage that is more than 50% of the state average weekly wage, up to the maximum weekly benefit.

Private plans will be allowed and the administration of the program will fall to a state department or an authorized third party. Employees who have been employed for at least 120 days prior to leave are entitled to job restoration (same or equivalent position) upon their return from leave. There will be notice requirements (in the workplace and to employees within 30 days of the start of employment). We will keep you informed of updates, changes, and all pertinent information as they develop this program over the next couple of years.

Oregon

Paid Leave Oregon has published an Employee Guidebook (in 11 languages) that has a lot of great information regarding the upcoming program. The program’s minimum and maximum benefit amounts (through June 30, 2024) have been announced. The minimum weekly benefit amount will be $63.48 and the maximum weekly benefit amount will be $1,523.63. These amounts will be calculated once per year and will be effective from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.

Washington

Employment Security Department (ESD) You can now add more contacts to your employer account for the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. You can add contacts for wage reporting, payments/refunds, and benefits. You can find more information through the Help Center. You are probably aware that WA Cares (long term care insurance program) premiums started on July 1, 2023 and reporting will start on October 1, 2023. You can find more information here. Employees may choose to apply for an exemption and if they are approved for an exemption, it’s their responsibility to notify their employer (and provide a copy of the approval letter). If you are notified, you are to no longer deduct WA Cares premiums for the employee (the letter will list the date the employee’s exemption takes effect). You should also keep a copy of the employees’ approval letter on file. The ESD is doing its best to process a high volume of applications. You can find more information here regarding employee exemptions for WA Cares.

Canada Updates

Federally Regulated Employers

For federally regulated employers, Bill C-47 amended the Canada Labour Code’s child death and disappearance leave, increasing the maximum leave if an employee’s child dies or disappears to 156 weeks (previously 104 weeks). The law now allows employees to take death and disappearance leave, even if the child was 14 years of age or older at the time of the crime and it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child was a party to the crime. Employees would have previously been excluded from taking leave under those circumstances.

Larkin Canadian Leave Clients – are you federally regulated? If you are a Larkin client for whom we provide Canadian leave services, please let us know if you are federally regulated (if you have not already informed us), as there are different leave laws for federally regulated employers which may impact the leaves that Larkin handles for you. The list of federally regulated industries can be found here. If you are unsure if you are a federally regulated company, then we recommend consulting with your Canadian counsel to confirm.

Provincial Updates

Manitoba

Effective May 30, 2023, Bill 235 amended The Employment Standards Code by increasing the number of unpaid leave days upon the death of a family member from three to five days. Additionally, employees can now also take up to five days of unpaid leave if they or their spouse or common-law partner experiences a pregnancy loss.

Québec

The 2024 premium rates for the Québec Parental Insurance Plan have been confirmed, and will remain the same as the current 2023 rates. Therefore, the premium rate for QPIP in 2024 is 0.494% for salaried workers, and 0.692% for employers. The maximum insurable earnings increase effective January 1 of each year, so keep a lookout for a future newsletter from us at the end of the year with the updated 2024 rate.

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News you can use

Stay informed about federal and state policy changes as Larkin continually tracks the latest news.