Integrating Your Leave and Time Off Programs with State-Mandated PFML

Tasha Patterson@Work

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Integrating Your Leave and Time Off Programs with State-Mandated PFML

By Brycie Wasson

Account Executive, Total Absence Management
The Partners Group

The trend toward new state paid family and medical leave (PFML) laws has grown across the United States in recent years and will continue accelerating.

In 2019 alone, 28 states introduced PFML bills, making PFML a hot topic in political campaigns for both major political parties. Today, we have six state PFML programs paying benefits — California, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington — and three more passed, with programs under development, in Colorado, Connecticut, and Oregon. Colorado recently made history as the first state to mandate PFML with a popular ballot vote, bypassing the legislative process.

Figure 1: PFL and PFML Laws by State: Operational, Passed, Proposed, Alternatives, or Not Required

Map produced by Standard Insurance Company, retrieved Jan. 3, 2021. For updates when new PFL or PFML laws are passed, visit https://www.standard.com/employer/products-services/insurance-benefits/states-paid-family-leave.

Existing PFML programs are also continuously evolving. For example, beginning in January 2021, New York state’s Paid Family Leave will increase income replacement to 67%.

Premium rates and benefit calculations that use a state’s average weekly wage are adjusted annually, which may increase benefits. These laws are complicated, coverage is broad, and employee entitlement is nearly absolute. There is NO opting out; employers must shoulder the responsibility of coordinating compliance and coverage with each state’s manded PFML into their existing employee benefits programs.

With such rapid and ongoing change, you may be feeling a little lost. You’re not alone. An early 2020 study conducted by The Standard and Versta Research1 found only 40% of employers feel well prepared to take on state-mandated PFML. The key to compliance when you come up against a PFML law is to apply a four-step decision process for your organization.

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