The Eye of the Storm: The Evolution of PFML Trends and Paid Leave Policies

Jai Hooker@Work

The Eye of the Storm: The Evolution of PFML Trends and Paid Leave Policies

By Jessica Bolar, Senior Product Manager, PFML and Absence Management, The Standard; Samantha Reed, Senior Statutory Business Consultant, PFML, The Standard; Lincoln Dirks, National Practice Leader, Absence Management, The Standard

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) requires a watchful and expert eye as new and evolving legislation takes shape across the country. Support for these laws is increasing at a time when human resources (HR) leaders have mounting responsibilities and must practice due diligence to keep employers competitive, compliant, and supportive of employee populations.

PFML has also become a more critical and sought-out component of employee benefit packages as administration of the programs becomes more complicated. And that creates challenges for employers that are considering starting, expanding, and integrating PFML into their benefits programs.

Mapping PFML Legislation

Statutory PFML and paid family leave (PFL) programs are administered in a variety of ways across the country. And because no leave law is identical, program administration quickly gets confusing when employers are trying to track requirements and ensure compliance, especially when employees work in multiple states. Each time there is a new law or changes to legislation, companies must adapt. This shift requires time, resources, and access to the most current information.1

Staying up to speed on evolving state legislation helps HR leaders understand how changes could affect their programs, companies, and employees. In 2023, states with programs in force are implementing changes to their contributions, benefits, and, in some instances, reasons for leave and definitions of eligible family relationships. Four additional states (Oregon, Colorado, Delaware, and Maryland) will implement PFML programs through 2026, and employers need to be aware of key dates for contributions, benefits, and regulatory posting requirements.

In addition, a mandatory PFML program for state employees in New Hampshire became effective in 2023. Private employers can opt into the state program, but they are not required to participate. Vermont has taken a similar approach, announcing it will launch mandatory coverage for state employees beginning July 1, 2023, along with a voluntary PFML program option for nonstate employers, self-employed individuals, and employees of nonstate employers with a phased approach for opting into the program through 2025.

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