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State Mandated Paid Family Leave/Paid Sick Leave

As we step into the early days of the new year, it's a perfect opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the significant updates in paid family and sick leave regulations nationwide. These modifications, some of which came into effect on January 1 while others are scheduled for later in 2023, offer employers a chance to proactively manage their compliance responsibilities.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a cornerstone of U.S. labor law, offering crucial protections to eligible employees who need time off for family or medical reasons. FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child, or to care for a family member, or to attend to the employee’s own serious medical health condition.

However, while the FMLA guarantees up to 12 weeks’ leave, that time is unpaid. There are certain employers that are exempt from this federal law and not all employees are eligible to receive these benefits. Consequently, numerous states have chosen to mandate that employers extend a paid alternative, taking an additional stride to furnish employees with a source of income during their leave. Most of this funding is paid through taxes collected from the employee, employer, or both — but typically collected and remitted to the state by the employer.

Mandated Paid Family Leave: As of January 2023, 11 states have laws that mandate paid leave for a serious health condition or disability; California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, DC.

In addition, two states — New Hampshire and Vermont — have adopted voluntary paid family and medical leave insurance programs. In Michigan, a new law offers employers a tax incentive for offering paid parental and adoption leave.

Mandated Paid Sick Leave: While employees are covered for long-term leave under the FMLA, there’s no federal paid sick leave act that requires a private employer to pay for short-term illness.

A noticeable trend is emerging, marked by the formulation of legislations at state and local levels. These laws are specifically designed to safeguard employees who could otherwise face the dilemma of reporting to work while unwell, risking the health of their co-workers, or calling in sick and possibly losing pay, and in the worst-case scenario, even their jobs.

In these state paid sick leave laws, employees are typically protected from any retaliation by their employer. It is critical that business owners and managers understand the laws and the procedures when an employee requests sick leave. Negative reactions or a lack of knowledge to the procedures could be viewed as retaliatory in nature.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Washington, D.C. have mandatory paid sick leave laws.

Your Partner in HR,

Ashley Castronova, MHRM, SHRM-CP

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