The Changing Paid Leave Landscape
By Jennifer Pepin, JD, M. Ed., Product Strategy Lead, Aflac
As states pass more paid statutory leaves and voters across the country approve paid family and medical leave (PFML) programs, employers have many options for designing leave benefits to ensure employees have the coverage they need. The question is what to do where.
Legacy statutory disability and family leave insurance programs in California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island include separate disability (medical) and paid family leave benefits. And PFML includes medical and family leave pieces, which is important for employers because the combined program under PFML allows for easier pricing, reporting, and administration.
But it’s increasingly confusing to understand what is possible where. For example, in Virginia, employers can purchase paid family leave (PFL) as an insurance product from carriers. New Hampshire and Vermont allow employers to purchase voluntary PFML from one carrier while all carriers can sell PFML as an insurance product.
And there are vast differences with each paid statutory leave program. Benefit plans swing to both ends of the spectrum, with some states (including Connecticut and Oregon) offering as much as 95% to 100% wage replacement to a maximum benefit amount. Paid statutory leave also has generous durations. For example, in Massachusetts, employees with serious health conditions receive a 20-week leave benefit allotment while in California, employees could be entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave. Moreover, paid statutory leave laws typically allow for intermittent leave for family reasons and medical leaves.
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