New paid leave requirements in the U.S. continue trending – even apart from the COVID-19 emergency requirements. Below is a summary of new federal, state, and local requirements in 2020 and beyond for employers to keep tabs on.
New paid leave requirements (including sick leave and family and medical leave) continue to trend across the U.S. for employers, particularly because federal, state, and local requirements differ across jurisdictions and industries. Last month, we wrote in detail about the unprecedented pace of new paid sick leave requirements due to the COVID-19 emergency.
In this post we will cover a high-level overview of the changes seen in 2020 and beyond (apart from COVID-19 emergency requirements) to help you stay organized in the paid leave realm.
Earned paid leave that may be used for any reason
An emerging trend in the U.S. is a requirement for employers to offer earned paid leave that can be used for any reason (i.e. not limited to reasons due to illness or medical needs). On Jan. 1, 2020, we saw the first statewide requirement to this effect in Nevada.
In Bernalillo County, New Mexico, the Employee Wellness Act will soon require covered employers to provide paid time off to eligible employees to use for any reason. The law was previously set to take effect July 1, 2020, but this effective date was delayed to Oct. 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 emergency.
In addition, effective on Jan. 1, 2021, the state of Maine will require covered employers to offer earned paid leave for eligible employees to use for any reason. You can learn more about Maine’s requirements and final rules here.
Paid sick and family leave developments (apart from COVID-19)
Continuing the trend across the U.S. in paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave, we’ve seen a handful of updates in 2020.
New York will soon require paid sick leave on a state-wide basis for certain employers, and unpaid sick leave for others, depending on the size and income of the employer. The leave may be used for certain medical and employee safety-related reasons, with accrual beginning Sept. 30, 2020, and accrued leave entitlements available to use starting January 1, 2021.
We’ve also seen two changes at the local level in 2020. Effective July 1, 2020, amendments to the Chicago, Illinois paid sick leave rules expanded coverage and notice requirements. Among other changes, the amended law extends coverage to all employers with at least one covered employee, regardless of whether the employer has a Chicago worksite or is subject to business license requirements.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a “new” paid sick leave requirement became effective March 15, 2020. This law was initially enacted in 2015 but was delayed by extended legal challenges. On July 17, 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the validity of the law, and the city later issued additional guidance that set the effective date of the law to be March 15, 2020.
Finally, a new paid family and medical leave law is in the pipeline in Connecticut, with payroll contributions to take effect Jan. 1, 2021 and benefits available a year later. Like other programs, the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program will be a state-administered insurance program allowing eligible employees to receive partial wages when they take leave for certain family or medical reasons.
Colorado has also recently added a ballot initiative that will go to the voters this fall, which if passed with enough votes, would provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, with an additional 4 weeks for pregnancy or childbirth complications, beginning in 2023.
What does this mean for employers?
Employers in the U.S. will want to continue staying up to date on new paid leave requirements for your impacted employees and plan for change.
Other options we’ve mentioned in the past include to consider long-term strategies to help manage this constantly evolving area, for example making a comprehensive tracking sheet for your workforce, using an HR system that helps you manage legislative changes, and periodically checking for updates.
Another strategy that often helps is to adopt a paid leave program that is at least as generous as the strictest local requirements. Employers should make sure to consult with their human resources and employment advisors to come up with an approach that works best for them.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should review with your legal advisors how the laws identified in this post may apply to your specific situation.
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