February 15, 2024

State Updates

State Updates

California

This is a quick reminder that starting on February 15, 2024, unemployment, disability, and PFL benefits from the Employment Development Department will no longer be issued to a Bank of America debit card. Claimants will instead receive a new Money Network prepaid debit card. You can find more details in this newsletter and on the EDD’s website which includes an informational video regarding the change.

Oregon

Paid Leave Oregon has recently filed Permanent Administrative orders for 16 administrative rules that went into effect January 12, 2024. This Batch 9 order relates to appeals, assistant grants, benefits, confidentiality, equivalent plans, and self-employment. While we welcome you to read them for yourself, we wanted to highlight some definitions that have been added.

First up, a definition for “affinity” was added to help further clarify the list of family members that an eligible employee may take leave to care for. An individual related by blood or affinity should have a significant personal bond that is like a family relationship and can be demonstrated by a slew of factors like shared personal financial responsibility, emergency contact designations, the expectation to provide care because of the relationship, cohabitation, and even geographical proximity. These are listed as some of the factors that illustrate an affinity, and the definition leaves it open to interpretation by finishing off with “other factors that demonstrate the existence of a family-like relationship.”

The other definition we wanted to highlight was the addition of “bias,” which is used for the purpose of safe leave. An employee can use safe leave if they are a victim of a bias crime, which means the commission, attempted commission, or alleged commission of an offense that is both intentional and based on the person’s perception of the other person’s race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin.

Rhode Island

The Department of Labor and Training has released an updated version of the TDI/TCI combination workplace poster. A change was made to a link within the “Employment and Training Services” Section of the poster. We recommend swapping out the current workplace poster with the new one without delay. Employers are reminded that the poster must be displayed within their RI workplace(s) in a place where all employees can see them. For remote workers or telecommuters, employers may email or text the webpage linked above to comply with this requirement.

Vermont

We have some big news to share with you about Vermont’s upcoming voluntary Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FMLI) program… Governor Scott has released an announcement that employers with two or more employees will soon have the opportunity to begin designing a program plan to fit their business and employee needs with The Hartford as early as February 15, 2024. As a refresher, The Hartford is the third-party insurance carrier that the state selected in late 2022 to provide FMLI.

Employers who opt in will be able to design a plan that is flexible, somewhat similar to what we’ve seen with New Hampshire’s voluntary program. Some of the most notable features of the VT FMLI program include the option to provide family and medical leave, or just family leave; the choice of how contributions are paid, whether the employer or the employees pay the full cost, or if there is a split between the two; customizable duration of benefits ranging between 6 to 26 weeks per 12-month period; as well as up to 60% or 70% of wage replacement for employees on leave.

While employers will be able to begin designing plans by February 15, with employees being able to utilize those benefits by July 1, 2024, those employees whose employer does not opt in can instead opt in to the program individually by July 1, 2025. If your company does plan to enroll in the VT FMLI program in the future, please let your Larkin Client Success Manager know as soon as possible, so we can administer leaves for your Vermont employees accordingly. Employers who would like to opt in can learn more on The Hartford’s website.

Washington

The Employment Security Department has released updated employer toolkits for 2024. You can find them here in the help center section of the PFML website. There is a toolkit related to benefits as well as one for reporting and premiums.

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