U.S. Federal Update
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
This newsletter provided information regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the PWFA that the EEOC published in the Federal Register in August. We wanted to remind you of the October 10th deadline to provide comments (over 38,000 have been received thus far) to the EEOC regarding the rule. You can submit comments here.
Employment Development Department (EDD)
The EDD has released guidelines for employers who have a Voluntary Plan (VP) in place of State Disability Insurance (SDI) as far as the taxable wage ceiling is concerned. As we’ve mentioned in this newsletter and discussed last week during our webinar on how to navigate SDI tax changes and VPs, SB 951 includes removal of the taxable wage ceiling on contributions to SDI as of January 1, 2024. The EDD has determined that current VPs may keep the wage ceiling and new VPs currently being implemented may choose to have a wage ceiling.
The EDD has noted that employers should use total wages (not wage ceiling wages) when reporting VP wages on the DE 3D (quarterly contribution return). Therefore, the quarterly assessment will also be based on total wages. Further, employers should use total wages (not wage ceiling wages) when completing the DE 2544SRW (security review worksheet).
Lastly, the EDD has also noted that retaining a wage ceiling does not qualify as a “greater right” or enhancement. As you may know, one of the requirements for a Voluntary Plan is that it has at least one right or benefit that is greater than the rights afforded by SDI.
Implementing or retaining a taxable wage ceiling is not a one size fits all proposition. It can be a risk financially for a VP and needs to be considered carefully to ensure that it is indeed a feasible option. If you are interested in a feasibility study to determine if retaining a wage ceiling works for your Plan or if you would like a study to see if a VP makes sense for you, please reach out to your Larkin Account Manager or click here to send an email to our Account Management team.
If you would like to learn more about Delaware Paid Leave (and the EARNS retirement program), you will have several opportunities to do so starting next week. The Delaware Department is providing public forums (which include a Q&A session) that you can attend online or in person. Go here to register. As a reminder Delaware Paid Leave goes live on January 1, 2026.
A new lactation law, HB 358, has been enacted by the state of New Hampshire effective July 1, 2025, which applies to employers with 6 or more employees working in the state. The new law requires employers to provide sufficient space and reasonable break periods to employees who need to express milk (excluding breastfeeding) within the first year of a child’s birth. A nursing employee shall notify the employer at least 2 weeks in advance of needing reasonable breaks and sufficient space for the purpose of expressing milk while aligning with the employer’s policies.
An employer is required to provide access to a reasonable, clean sufficient space, other than a bathroom and shielded from view or intrusion, for an employee to express milk. If feasible, the room should have an electrical outlet and a chair at a minimum and the location must be within a reasonable walk of the worksite. If the space is not solely for the use of employees expressing milk it shall be made available when requested.
Additionally, employers are required to provide nursing employees with unpaid reasonable break periods of approximately 30 minutes for every 3 hours of work performed for the purpose of expressing milk. The law does not preclude an employee from taking the reasonable break period during break or meal periods already provided by the employer. Employees cannot be required to make up time related to the use of these reasonable break periods.
All employers must adopt a policy to address the provisions under this law and make aware of the policies related to expressing milk during work hours to employees at the time of hire. An employer may be exempted from these requirements if providing reasonable break time and sufficient space for expressing milk would impose an undue hardship to the business.
The Department of Labor & Workforce Development has released the contribution rates for 2024 for the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) programs. As you know, there are currently no TDI employee contributions for 2023, and 2024 may follow suit. The withholding rates for employees will be released later this year, so we’ll be sure to inform you when that happens. In the meantime, though…
The employee taxable wage base for the FLI program will increase from $156,800 to $161,400. Meanwhile, the employer taxable wage base will increase from $41,100 to $42,300. The employee eligibility requirement has been amended, as well, where now to qualify for NJ FLI or TDI benefits, an employee must have earned at least $283 weekly or have earned a combined total of $14,200 in the base year – this is an increase from the 2023 requirement of earning at least $260 weekly, or a combined total of $13,000 in the base year. Lastly, the maximum weekly benefit in 2024 for TDI/FLI will increase from $1,025 to $1,055. For more information on the contribution updates, you can visit the state website.
Family Leave Insurance
The Garden State has also recently amended rules for its Family Leave Insurance law. Among other changes are the following amendments:
- “Base year” is now defined as the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the period of family leave, or for cases where an individual doesn’t have sufficient qualifying weeks or wages in the base year, they then have the option to designate an alternate base year, which could be either the last four or last three completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the period of family leave, depending on the sufficient qualifying weeks or wages that the employee has. Previously, the base year was defined as the 52-consecutive-calendar weeks immediately preceding the calendar week of which the period of family leave commenced, or in those cases where a period of family leave occurs immediately after a period of disability, then the 52-week period is calculated from the start of the period of disability.
- Children who become the child of a parent through a gestational carrier were added to the definitions of “child” and “care recipient” for the purposes of taking family leave.
- Leave for an incident of domestic or sexual violence, whether it is for the individual who is a victim or to assist their family member who is a victim, is also now included under the definition of “family leave,” along with reasons in the event of a communicable disease or state of emergency.
- Employers who provide family leave insurance under a private plan must now post a notice approved by the Director in a conspicuous location at the workplace, or provide it via intranet or email. Notice should be provided upon hire and additionally within 3 business days of when the employer is made aware of the employee’s need for disability benefits.
You may reference the rule adoptions here.
Paid Family Leave
The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) has announced updated premium details for the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program for the 2024 calendar year.
The updated contribution rate, effective as of January 1, 2024, will decrease to 0.373% as compared to the premium rate of 0.455% for 2023. The maximum annual contribution cost per employee in 2024 will subsequently decrease to $333.25, from $399.43. If you would like further detail on the rate decisions, you can find more within the DFS press release.
Additionally, the state average weekly wage for 2024 was updated to $1,718.15 which means that the taxable wage ceiling will be $89,343.80. The maximum weekly benefit will increase to $1,151.16 from $1,131.08.
New York has updated their resources for 2024:
The Employment Department has published an employee toolkit page on their Paid Leave Oregon website. Employees can find links and resources to help them to understand the newly launched program. There is also an eligibility quiz and a benefits calculator.
Canada Federal Update
Employment Insurance (EI)
Effective January 1, 2024, the maximum insurable earnings (MIE) for EI benefits will increase from $61,500 to $63,200. Here is a table which shows the maximum amounts of premiums payable to the EI program by both employers and employees, for 2024.
|Contributor||Premium rate (per $100 of insurable earnings)||Maximum annual contribution 2024||Difference in maximum annual contribution from 2023|
|Workers residing in Quebec||$1.32||$834.24||$53.19|
|Employers in Quebec||$1.85||$1,167.94||$74.47|
The employee premium rate will be $1.66 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2024 and $2.324 for employers. With the updated MIE and premium rate, insured workers in 2024 will be subject to a maximum annual premium of $1,049.12 (the maximum is $1,002.45 in 2023). Therefore, the maximum weekly EI benefit rate will increase from $650 per week in 2023 to $668 per week for EI claims that begin in 2024. Note: there are extended plan EI benefits for parental leave, which will increase from $390 per week in 2023, to $401 per week in 2024.
Residents of Quebec will be subject to a premium rate of $1.32 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2024, to a maximum annual premium of $834.24. The lower premium for Quebec residents is due to the province administering a parental insurance plan, QPIP. The reduction rate for QPIP premiums is 0.36%, and employers pay 1.4 times the employee premium rate. The 2024 premium rate for employers in Quebec is $1.85 per $100 of insurable earnings.