Program Showcase: Navigating Paid Family Leave

DMEC Staff@Work

The Conundrum of Coordination: Navigating Paid Family Leave

Conundrum of CoordinationBy Terry Smith

First-VP Consultant
American Benefits Consulting

By Erica Vanni

First-VP Consultant
American Benefits Consulting

Responding to a tight U.S. labor market and changing workforce demographics, more employers are offering paid, job-protected leave for new parents or to care for ill family members.

According to the 2018 Business Impact of Paid Leave Pulse Survey 1 conducted by DMEC, 38% of employers voluntarily offer paid family leave where not required by law or go over and above what is mandated by law. These programs generate positive feedback from employees, enhancing the company’s value proposition for recruiting and retention. But now these employers must administer and coordinate private plans parallel to those being enacted at the state or local level.

In the absence of a federal law, several states and municipalities have passed legislation requiring paid leave benefits for employees working in the state or municipality. California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and San Francisco currently require some form of paid family and/or medical leave with additional programs paying benefits in Washington, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. beginning in 2020 and 2021.

We have also seen a flurry of pending legislation for various paid family leave programs in more than 20 states. These local laws vary in eligibility, family member definition, wage replacement, duration, and covered leave types, as well as in cost, funding, and administrative options. The complexities of coordinating private company-sponsored plans with multiple local laws is driving increased support for a federal program that would preempt state and municipal laws.

A legislative logjam exists at the federal level. Following the State of the Union address, Republicans are promising to devote fresh energy to paid family leave legislation, an area that has seen much effort by Democrats already.

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