Compliance update – August 2019

Every month, Lincoln puts together the latest compliance news related to family and medical leave laws and regulations – helping you keep track of the important deadlines, compliance considerations and links to additional information.
 

  • Family and medical leave
  • Sick leave
  • Accommodations

Massachusetts

September 30, 2019

As a reminder, on or before this date, employers and covered business entities are required to provide written notice to their current workforce (Massachusetts W2 employees and 1099-MISC contractors) of PFML benefits, contribution rates, and other provisions as outlined in the PFML law. 

This notice, which may be provided electronically, must include the opportunity for an employee or self-employed individual to acknowledge receipt or decline to acknowledge receipt of the information. The employer can receive these acknowledgments in paper form or electronically. In the event that an employee or self-employed individual fails to acknowledge receipt, the Department shall consider an employer or covered business entity to have fulfilled its notice obligation if it can establish that it provided to each member of its current workforce notice and the opportunity to acknowledge or decline to acknowledge receipt.

If you haven’t done so already, you must display the mandatory workplace PFML poster prepared and approved by the DFML that explains the benefits available to your workforce under the PFML law. This poster must be posted in a location where it can be easily read. The poster must be available in English and each language which is the primary language of five or more individuals in the employer’s workforce, if such translations are made available from DFML.

Templates for the poster and employee notices can be found on the DFML website.

Oregon

August 9, 2019

Gov. Kate Brown signed the Oregon paid family and medical leave insurance bill (H.B. No. 2005) into law. This law provides wage replacement benefits to certain employees while on family, medical, or safe (domestic violence) leave. 

Which employers must comply?
All private employers must provide family and medical leave insurance (FMLI) benefits to covered individuals through the state-run program or a private plan. Employers may opt out of the state-run program by having an approved private plan for the payment of FMLI benefits. The benefits afforded to covered individuals must be equivalent to or greater than the benefits the covered individuals are entitled to in the state's FMLI program. 

When does the program become effective?
Assessment and collection of contributions for covered individuals will begin on January 1, 2022, with payment of benefits commencing by January 1, 2023.

Who is eligible?
Covered employees include employees who have earned at least $1,000 in wages during the base year. If an employee has not earned at least $1,000 in wages during the base year, an employee who has earned at least $1,000 in wages during the alternate base year would also be covered.  A “base year” is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters preceding the benefit year; the “alternate base year” is the last four completed calendar quarters preceding the benefit year.

What are the qualifying reasons for receiving FMLI benefits?
Qualifying reasons include periods of medical leave, certain family leave, and safe leave. Family leave reasons include caring for a family member with a serious health condition and bonding with a child following birth or placement within the first twelve months. FMLI benefits are also available for leave reasons under Oregon’s domestic violence leave law. FMLI benefits are not available for sick child leave, bereavement leave, or qualifying exigency leave.

How long can employees receive benefits?
The law will provide employees with up to 12 weeks of paid FMLI benefits over a 12-month period, with total paid and unpaid leave capped at 18 weeks.

How much will employees receive?
Covered individuals will receive a weekly benefit that will vary depending on income. A covered employee’s weekly benefits under the program are generally calculated as 100% of his or her average weekly wage, up to 65% of the average weekly wage, plus 5% of his or her average weekly wage that exceeds 65% the average weekly wage. Total benefits are capped at 120% of the average weekly wage, and the minimum weekly benefit amount is 5% of the average weekly wage. 

What are the anticipated contributions for this benefit?
The total contribution rate shall be set by the Director of the Employment Department but will not be more than 1% of the employee’s wages, with employers and employees sharing the cost. The actual rate will be forthcoming from the state. Employee contributions shall be 60% of the total rate; employer contributions shall be 40% of the total rate. Employers that employ fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay the employer contributions; however, if an employer that employs fewer than 25 employees elects to pay employer contributions, the employer may apply to receive a grant.

How does this law interact with the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA)?
OFLA is an existing leave law which generally requires certain private-sector employers to provide job-protected unpaid leave to employees for various reasons related to their health or their family members' health. The new paid leave law creates a wage replacement program to provide FMLI benefits to certain employees taking leave for reasons allowed under OFLA and federal FMLA. FMLI benefits must be taken concurrently with OFLA or federal FMLA, where applicable.

Washington

August 31, 2019

For 2019 only, reporting for Q1 and Q2 will be due August 31, 2019. Reporting periods follow calendar quarters and are aligned with the reporting periods for unemployment insurance. More information on the WA PFML reporting process can be found on their website.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas enacted a paid sick leave ordinance requiring all private sector employers to provide employees with paid sick leave at the same wage rate as the employee normally earns. Under the enacted ordinance, which is similar to the Austin Paid Sick Leave (PSL) ordinance, employees will accrue one hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked, but employees are not entitled to accrue or use more than 40 hours of PSL per year. PSL is capped annually at:

  • 48 hours for small employers (fewer than 15 employees)
  • 64 hours for medium or large employers (15 or more employees)

The law takes effect:

  • August 1, 2019: For employers with six or more employees
  • August 1, 2021: For employers with five or fewer employees

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas has postponed implementation of the paid sick leave until December 1, 2019, due to pending litigation. As enacted, San Antonio’s ordinance would have been effective August 1, 2019. Under the ordinance, employees will accrue one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. PSL is capped annually at 48 hours for small employers (15 employees or fewer) and 64 hours for medium or large employers (more than 15 employees).

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has upheld the legality of the paid sick leave ordinance of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh’s ordinance as enacted was originally effective January 11, 2016. Further guidance will be forthcoming from the Mayor’s office on the new effective date and implementation guidelines for the paid sick leave ordinance. Employees will accrue one hour of leave for every 35 hours worked. PSL is capped annually at 24 hours for small employers (fewer than 15 employees) and 40 hours for medium or large employers (15 or more employees).
 

Maine

September 18, 2019

A new pregnancy accommodation law in Maine will require employers to reasonably accommodate the needs of employees due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, including but not limited to lactation. Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to: more frequent or longer breaks; temporary modification in work schedules, seating or equipment; temporary relief from lifting requirements; temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous work; and provisions for lactation. Reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions are not to be considered as additional benefits.

Please note: This alert is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is being provided to Lincoln Financial Group clients so they may conduct any necessary internal evaluation of their policies and procedures. This alert is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the alert. Please contact your legal advisor with any questions regarding the laws discussed in this communication. Lincoln continually monitors activity related to family and medical leave laws and as laws pass, we will determine any impacts to our suite of products. Lincoln does not currently administer or track paid sick leave. The information contained herein includes information on major cities and counties and is not all inclusive of all city and county laws.

Insurance products are issued by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, IN, Lincoln Life & Annuity Company of New York, Syracuse, NY, and Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, Boston, MA. The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company does not solicit business in New York, nor is it licensed to do so. Product availability and/or features may vary by state. Limitations and exclusions apply.