Employers in New Jersey, New York, California, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia are familiar with the arduous process of implementing, communicating and administering paid family leave laws. Washington State got a late start on its own program, passed in 2007, and now Massachusetts is the latest to get the ball rolling on these benefits. Hawaii is next in line with proposed legislation due September of 2019. Below is a brief summary for Washington and Massachusetts leave laws – both cover employees but not individual contractors or self-employed individuals.
The Washington State program will be funded by both employers and employees with payroll deductions beginning on January 1, 2019. Payment of benefits begins on January 1, 2020, covering employees working at least 820 hours per year. Covered leaves include care for a family member with a serious health condition, the employee’s own serious health condition and leave for bonding within the first 12 months due to birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, a qualifying military exigency or learning of a military spouse’s call to duty.
Employees are eligible annually for: 12 weeks of family or medical leave; 14 weeks of family or medical leave if the employee experiences an incapacitating, pregnancy-related condition; 16 weeks of combined family or medical leave or 18 weeks of combined family or medical leave if the employee experiences an incapacitating, pregnancy-related serious health condition. Weekly benefits will vary based on the employee’s income with a $1,000 maximum through December 31, 2020. The premiums will be funded by both the employer and the employee. Employees will contribute a payroll tax of 0.4%. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premiums.
The Massachusetts program will be funded by employers and employees with payroll deductions beginning on July 1, 2019. Payment of benefits will begin on January 1, 2021. All private Massachusetts employers must comply. Employees who are currently working or former employees separated from their employment not more than 26 weeks at the start of the family or medical leave will be eligible for benefits. Covered leaves include care for a family member with a serious health condition as well as leave for the employee’s own serious health condition, including pregnancy or childbirth recovery. Leave for bonding within the first 12 months due to birth or adoption/placement, qualifying military exigency and care for a family member who is a covered servicemember are also included.
Employees are annually eligible for: 12 weeks of paid family leave; 20 weeks of paid medical leave; and 26 weeks of family leave are available to care for a family member that is a covered service member. There is a 26-week combined maximum of paid family and medical leave in a year. Up to $850 in weekly benefits are available through December 31, 2021, which will vary based on the employee’s income with premiums funded by both the employer and the employee. The total premiums have been initially set at 0.63 percent of the individual’s covered wages.
As more states jump on the bandwagon of implementing paid family and medical leave laws, benefit administration for multi-state employers will continue to get more complicated. We can help steer you through this maze.