New York Releases First Wave of Paid Family Leave Forms

Posted on: October 6, 2017 0

By Marti Cardi, VP-Product Compliance& Gail Cohen, Director-Employment Law/Compliance

 

In something of a stealth move, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board has released three forms for employers’ use in administering and complying with the Paid Family Leave Law that provides benefits starting January 1, 2018.  Those of us who check the NY PFL website daily and are signed up for news feeds received no word, but had to learn of the new forms through back channels.  The released forms include the following:

Employee Paid Family Leave Opt-Out of Benefits (PFL-Waiver, 9-17)

If an employee does not expect to work long enough to qualify for Paid Family Leave (a seasonal worker, for example), the employee may opt out of Paid Family Leave by completing the Waiver of Benefits Form.  Eligibility requires 26 weeks of 20 or more hours per week, or 175 days of work averaging fewer than 20 hours per week, with a covered employer.

This form contains some interesting news.  The employee’s waiver can be revoked by the employee or automatically because the employee has or will work more than the time needed for eligibility.  Per the regulations, the employee then has the obligation to catch up on contributions that would have been made during the eligibility period but for the waiver, but the regulations do not specify how the employer can recoup these amounts.  The form appears to authorize additional deductions from the employee’s pay to catch up for missed contributions:

I also understand if this waiver is revoked (either by me or by a change in my work schedule), my employer may take retroactive deductions for the period of time I was covered by this waiver, and this period of time counts towards my eligibility for paid family leave.  [Emphasis added.]

Employer’s Application for Voluntary Coverage (No Employee Contribution) (PFL-135, 9-17)

Employers exempt from providing mandatory Paid Family Leave may provide voluntary Paid Family Leave by completing PFL-135 (if no employee contribution is required).

Employer’s Application for Voluntary Coverage (Employee Contribution Required) (PFL-136, 9-17)

Employers exempt from providing mandatory Paid Family Leave may provide voluntary Paid Family Leave by completing PFL-136 (if they will be requiring an employee contribution).

The NY PFL regulations also calls for forms for employee use to request NY PFL, and certifications to support leave taken to care for a family member with a serious health condition, for military exigencies, and to bond with a new child due to birth or placement for adoption or foster care.  Employers and insurance carriers still working to get ready for the January 1, 2018, effective date have been begging the WCB for these other forms, which will be critical in getting the information the employer is entitled to for consideration of leave requests.  Employers and carriers are permitted to use their own forms, but clearly it is safest and easiest to use NY-sanctioned forms, especially at the beginning of this uncharted leave law.

The new forms, and additional forms as they are released, can be found at this link: https://www.ny.gov/new-york-state-paid-family-leave/paid-family-leave-employer-and-employee-forms-0

For more information about New York Paid Family Leave, check out our previous blog posts: August 2017, July 2017, May 2017, March 2017, and April 2016.

Hat tip to Marjory Robertson who provided early information about the new forms in an industry NY PFL call group!

 

NEW YORK HONING IN: Paid Family Leave Revised Regulations are Out, but Still Not Final

Posted on: May 29, 2017 0

By Marti Cardi, VP-Product Compliance

 

The New York Workers’ Compensation Board has issued revised regulations interpreting and supporting the state’s Paid Family Leave law that will start providing employees with pay benefits on January 1, 2018.  This revised version of the regulations, published on May 24, 2017, is still not final.  The Board is accepting comments for 30 days, or until June 23, 2017.

As a reminder, the law phases in from 2018 through 2021.  Job-protected leave starts at 8 weeks per 12-month period and increases to 12 weeks; pay benefits start at 50% and increase to 67% in 2021.  Leave is available to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, and tend to matters due to the active duty military deployment of a family member.    A more detailed review of the law’s provisions is available on our prior Matrix Radar blog post here.

Along with the revised proposed regulations, the Board published a summary of the 117 comments received during the public comment period from advocacy groups, individual employees, and associations representing businesses, insurance carriers, law firms, unions, and employees.   Here are a few interesting issues raised by the comments and the Board’s responses:

Employee Eligibility. NY PFL requires employees to become eligible for family leave after either 26 weeks or 175 days of work, depending on their schedule. The original regulations applied the 175-day eligibility rule only to part-time employees who worked fewer than 5 days per week.   Section 380-2.5 has been amended to apply the 26 week eligibility criteria to employees who work 20 or more hours per week, and the 175-day eligibility criteria to those who work less than 20 hours per week.  380-2.5(a) and (b).

Employer’s Lack of Cooperation. Some insurance carriers requested clarity around their obligations if an employer refuses to cooperation in the PFL benefits process.  The Board responded that the regulations then require the carrier to communicate directly with the employee, and the employer’s lack of cooperation is not grounds for denial of benefits.   380-5.4(e).

ICD-10 Code. The proposed regulations originally required that certifications from medical providers of a family member’s serious health condition include the ICD-10 code for the diagnosed condition.  Commenters identified various concerns, ranging from possible delays caused by incomplete forms, to health privacy concerns. In light of these comments, this section has been amended to remove the provision requiring that the ICD-10 code be included as part of the family member’s certification.  380-4.2(a)(3).

Employee Language Preference.  The original proposed regulations required an insurance carrier or self-insured employer to make all communications with an employee in the language identified by the employee on the Request for Paid Family Leave.  The Board received several comments expressing concern that complying with this requirement will be overly burdensome and prohibitively expensive. As a result, the Board has indicated that it will translate the request for paid family leave forms and instructions into seven languages (not identified), and has revised the regulation to state that insurance carriers or self-insured employers must make all reasonable efforts consistent with the principles set forth in Executive Order 26.”  §380-5.4(h).

Denial of Claim. Any denial of a claim for PFL benefits must be issued within 18 days of receipt of a completed claim.  The revised proposed regulations have added a section specifying that the notice to the employee must state the reason for the denial, repeat any relevant information filed in the request for PFL, and include any other information considered by the carrier in making the denial decision.  380-5.4§(a)(1).

Employer Size for Coverage. Several small employers and individuals expressed concerns about the adverse effect of paid family leave on small employers. The statute defines a covered employer as an employer with one or more employees, and this cannot be modified by regulation. Therefore, no change has been made.

Employee Contributions during Leave. The Board has revised the regulations to clarify that an employer can continue to deduct PFL contributions while an employee is receiving disability or PFL benefits.  380-7.2(b)(4).

The full text of the revised proposed regulations, a summary of all comments received, and other NY PFL information is available on the Paid Family Leave page of the Workers’ Compensation Board website:  http://www.wcb.ny.gov/PFL/pfl-regs.jsp.

MATRIX CAN HELP!

Matrix provides leave, disability, and accommodation management services to employers seeking a comprehensive and compliant solution to these complex employer obligations. We monitor the many leave laws being passed around the country and specialize in understanding how they work together. For leave management and accommodation assistance, contact us at ping@matrixcos.com.

1, 2, 3, Leave!  California, San Francisco, and New York State Pass New or Increased Paid Family Leave Benefits

Posted on: April 12, 2016 1

BindersBy Marti Cardi, VP-Product Compliance & Gail Cohen, Director, Compliance & Employment Law

As the federal government dithers, states and municipalities continue to be proactive in passing paid family leave laws (PFLs). Read on for information about the laws passed by the latest members of the club, San Francisco and New York State.  In addition, California has passed a law to increase the percentage of salary compensation available for paid family leave under the existing California law.  This article provides:

  • A short overview of each of the new laws (New York, California, San Francisco);
  • Pings for employers: What YOU need to do to get ready; and
  • Summaries of the key provisions of the New York and San Francisco laws;
  • How Matrix can help employers comply with these and other leave of absence laws, paid or unpaid.

There will likely be regulatory updates as the various state and municipal agencies provide further guidance to employers on how to comply with these new laws.  Matrix will keep you up to date as we move toward each law’s effective date.

New York Paid Family Leave Overview
Effective January 1, 2018, New York employers will be required to provide paid family leave benefits to eligible employees.  This law was passed as part of the state’s 2016 budget and is another benefit available in addition to the state’s worker’s compensation and employee disability pay benefits. 

The New York paid family leave law (NY PFL) is one of the most progressive proposed or passed, providing up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave after a phase-in period.  The law dovetails to a large extent with leave rights under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act but in some regards will provide more leave rights, which might result in greater leave time in a 12-month period than the 12 weeks provided separately by each law.

EXAMPLE:  NY PFL will be available to care for a domestic partner, grandchild, or grandparent, which is not available under the FMLA.  A New York employee who takes leave to care for one of these family members would still have his or her full entitlement to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a different family member or another reason under the FMLA.

California Paid Family Leave Overview
On April 11 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law increasing the pay benefit available to California employees for family leave from 55% to 60%, and as high as 70% for a new classification of low-income workers.

Effective January 1, 2018, the law also eliminates the current 7-day waiting period currently imposed prior to an employee’s eligibility to receive benefits.

California’s PFL program is funded by worker contributions and is administered by the state’s Employment Development Department, which also administers the state’s short term disability benefits. Reports indicate that EDD has enough in savings from workers’ contributions to cover the additional benefits that will commence in 2018.

Other material aspects of the existing CA PFL remain unchanged at this point.

San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Overview
San Francisco recently took paid family leave benefits to a new level, providing an increase in salary replacement benefits to eligible San Francisco employees who take leave for a newborn or newly adopted or foster child (San Francisco Paid Parental Leave – SF PPL).  Unlike the state programs in California and New York, the new San Francisco ordinance does not cover leave taken to care for an ill or injured family member.

As summarized above, California already has paid family leave benefits (CA PFL), under which employees can receive up to 55% of their wages for six weeks for this bonding time.  This amount will increase to 60-70% as of January 1, 2018.  The San Francisco ordinance will enable SF employees to receive full 100% salary replacement during such leave.  The new ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2017.

The San Francisco ordinance has some provisions that provide additional rights to California employees.

New York State Paid Family Leave – Key Provisions

QUESTION ANSWER
Who is an Eligible Employee? An employee who has worked for 26 or more consecutive weeks.
For what reasons can family leave be taken? a)      To participate in providing care, including physical or psychological care, for a family member of the employee made necessary by a serious health condition (as defined by the FMLA) of the family member; or
b)      To bond with the employee’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or  placement of the child for adoption or foster care with the employee; or
c)       Because of any military “qualifying exigency,” as defined by the federal FMLA.
Who is a “Family Member?” a)      Child (biological, adopted or foster step, legal ward), child of a domestic partner, or a person to whom the employee stands in loco parentis;
b)      Parent (biological, foster, adoptive, in law, step, legal guardian), or other person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a child;
c)       Grandparent (biological only);
d)      Grandchild (biological only);
e)      Spouse; or
f)       Domestic Partner
Can I require certification of need for leave before granting my employee’s request to take it? Yes. The certification is more limited than what is permitted under the FMLA.  A statement of proof of need for leave is sufficient, including a statement of disability by the family care recipient’s healthcare provider.
Can I deny leave if my employee doesn’t timely provide me with that medical certification? No, but if the employee fails to furnish proof within the time or manner requested by the employer, no benefits are required to be paid for the 2 weeks prior to the date on which the required proof is furnished.
Do I as an employer have to pay for these benefits? No. These benefits are funded by employee contributions (1 ½% of employee’s weekly wages, not to exceed 60 cents/week) through payroll deductions.
How much leave can my employee take? The amount of leave an employee can take increases over time, as follows:

1/1/2018     8 weeks
1/1/2019    10 weeks
1/1/2020    10 weeks
1/1/2021   12 weeks

Is the paid leave benefit a complete wage replacement? No.  As with the amount of leave to be made available, the amount of paid benefits increase annually as follows:

1/1/2018     50% of the avg. weekly wage
1/1/2019     55% of the avg. weekly wage
1/1/2020     60% of the avg. weekly wage
1/1/2021     67% of the avg. weekly wage

Can the employee also take PTO or other sick leave benefits to enable them to maintain 100% of his salary while on leave? The employer can choose to allow employees to take vacation, sick or other benefits while on leave, but may not require them to do so.  However, if an employee uses vacation or other paid time, the employer can request reimbursement for any NY PFL benefits received during that time.
Can I run this leave concurrently with my employee’s right to take 12 weeks of leave under the federal FMLA? Yes, if the leave reason is covered under both laws.
Can this leave be taken intermittently? Yes, and successive periods of family leave caused by the same or a related injury or illness count as a single period if separated by less than 3 months.
Is there a “waiting period” before paid benefits are payable? No.  Unlike typical disability payments, which have waiting or elimination periods, benefits are payable on the first full day family leave is required.
Are there any exclusions? Yes, there are several enumerated exclusions, including for any disability or family leave commencing prior to the employee’s eligibility for NY PFL.
Are there any employer notice requirements? Yes. Employers will be required to post notice of employee rights to this leave, in the prescribed form.

In addition, employers must give a written statement of rights to the employee within 5 business days of receiving notice that the employee’s absence of 7 consecutive days is due to family leave.

Is the NY PFL a job protected leave? Yes.  Like the federal FMLA, employees are entitled to be restored to the same or a comparable position when they return to work following a NY PFL.
Do I have to maintain health insurance benefits coverage while the employee is on NY PFL? Yes.
Does the employee have a right to file a claim for retaliation for exercising his or her right to take or request NY PFL? Yes.

San Francisco Paid Parental Leave – Key Provisions

QUESTION ANSWER
Who is an eligible employee? A full-time, part-time, or temporary employee who:

a)      Has worked at least 180 days and works at least 8 hours per week; and
b)      Is otherwise eligible under CPFL for baby bonding leave; and
c)       Works at least 40% of his/her work hours in San Francisco.

How much do I have to pay as employer? Employers must pay benefits which, together with CA PFL benefits received by the employee,  will provide the employee 100% wage replacement during the leave (referred to in the ordinance as “Supplemental Compensation”).
Can I require the employee to use accrued, unused vacation time before using paid leave? Yes, the employer can require the employee to use up to 2 weeks of accrued unused vacation time prior to receiving SF PPL, thereby capping the employer’s obligation to 4 of the 6 weeks the employee takes paid parental leave
Does the employee have any reimbursement obligations if he or she doesn’t remain employed after returning from leave? Yes. Prior to receiving SF PPL, the employee is required to sign a form agreeing to reimburse the employer for the full benefit amount if he or she voluntarily terminates employment within 90 days of returning from leave (requires employer to explicitly request reimbursement in writing).
Are there any employer posting requirements? Yes.  Employers are required to post a notice of SF PPL rights to employees in the OLSE prescribed form.
What are the record retention requirements? Employers must retain records of their compliance with this ordinance for 3 years.
In addition to leave rights, does SF PPL grant any other employee protections? Yes.  The law protects employees from any adverse action in connection with, or retaliation for, their exercise of leave rights.
Does the ordinance provide employees with a private right of action? Yes, but primary authority for enforcement, including auditing of compliance, rests with the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE).  In addition, employees must exhaust their administrative remedies by filing a complaint with OLSE prior to filing a private lawsuit.
What are the possible penalties for violations? The law provides for potential treble damages for any unpaid Supplemental Compensation, as well as other administrative penalties.

PINGPings for employers:  Prepare in advance!  If you have employees in New York state or San Francisco, make sure you have adopted policies to comply with the two new laws (effective January 1, 2018, and January  1, 2017, respectively);

Have your payroll personnel start working on the necessary steps to administer the new NY PFL and the increased benefit for CA PFL, including the requisite payroll deductions; and SF PPL, including making the correct pay benefits when an employee is on leave.

Finally, plan for costs associated with administering the laws and covering increased employee absences.  In San Francisco, this will include budgeting for the employer’s responsibility for pay benefits during leave, up to 100%.

MATRIX CAN HELP!  Matrix Absence Management provides leave, disability, and accommodation management services to employers seeking a comprehensive and compliant solution to these complex employer obligations. At Matrix we monitor the many state and municipal paid family and sick leave laws being passed around the country and will post updates in this blog as this area of employee benefits progresses.  In addition, our clients receive Matrix’s monthly Legislative Update, which pulls together these and other leave law developments in a concise and timely format.  With the passage of each new leave law – paid or unpaid – Matrix assesses employer needs and industry demands to determine whether administration of the new law should be added to Matrix’s suite of services.

Contact Matrix at 1-800-866-2301 to learn more about our services for complete management of leaves of absence, disability plans (state and private), and ADA accommodations, including leave.

Ten Years Later, Washington State Makes Its Paid Family Leave Dream a Reality

Posted on: July 6, 2017 0

By Marti Cardi, VP-Product Compliance

Gail Cohen, Director-Employment Law/Compliance

The state of Washington has enacted a law requiring paid family and medical leave for eligible employees.  The state was on the forefront of the paid family leave movement when it passed a paid parental leave law in 2007, but the law never went into effect because the legislature was unable to fund the benefit.  Now, a paid family leave bill much broader than the 2007 law was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on July 5, 2017.  The law will begin providing paid leave benefits to eligible employees on January 1, 2020.*

States with paid family leave programs currently in effect are California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, plus New York (benefits beginning January 1, 2018), and the District of Columbia (benefits beginning January 1, 2020).  The groundswell is huge, with more than 25 states introducing some sort of paid family leave bill so far this year!

Here is a summary of key provisions of the Washington law:

Effective date Employees can start taking paid family leaves January 1, 2020.

Employers can begin employee payroll deductions on January 1, 2019.

Eligible employees Must work 820 hours in the “qualifying period,” defined as the first 4 of the prior 5 calendar quarters; OR, if the employee is not yet eligible, the preceding 4 calendar quarters.  Equates to about 15.75 hours per week.
Covered employers An individual or entity with one or more employees; includes private companies, the state and subdivisions, and local governments.
Leave benefits reasons Employee’s own serious health condition.

Bonding with a newborn or newly placed or adopted child.

Care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Military exigency (leave necessitated for various reasons due to a family member’s active duty deployment).

Duration of leave benefits Employee’s own serious health condition  – 12 weeks per 52 consecutive calendar weeks.

Bonding with a new child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or due to a military exigency – 12 weeks total per 52 consecutive calendar weeks.

Limited to 16 weeks total per 52 consecutive calendar weeks for employee’s leave and family leave reasons; plus additional 2 weeks if needed for pregnancy complications.

Maximum total leave benefit is 18 weeks per 52 consecutive calendar weeks.

Increments of leave benefits Minimum of 8 hours, rounded down to the next full hour.
Waiting period for benefits There is no waiting period for bonding leave benefits following the birth or placement of a child.

For other types of leave benefits, there is a waiting period of 7 calendar days.

Family members for whom leave can be taken Child (any age), parent, spouse, state-registered domestic partner, sibling, grandparent, grandchild.
Benefits Maximum of $1000 per week starting in 2020, subject to adjustment by the state for each subsequent calendar year.

Employees who make 50% or less than the state’s average weekly wage (AWW) will receive 90% of their AWW.

Employees who make greater than 50% of the state’s AWW will receive:

o   90% of their wages up to 50% of the state’s AWW; PLUS

o   50% of their AWW in excess of 50% of the state’s AWW (subject to the $1000 cap)

Funding For 2019 and 2020, the total premium is 0.4 percent of the employee’s wages, capped at the state’s AWW, beginning on January 1, 2019. Annual adjustments may be made thereafter.

An employee pays about 2/3 of the total premium through payroll deductions.

The employer pays about 1/3 of the total premium.

An employer may elect to pay all or a portion of the employee’s share of the premium.

Self-funded plans The law authorizes employers to operate their own equivalent voluntary plans.
Miscellaneous Includes special provisions for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Allows tribes and self-employed individuals to opt in.

Job protection Following leave and benefits, an employee is entitled to restoration to the same position held before the leave; or to an equivalent  position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment at a workplace within 20 miles of the employee’s original workplace.

What’s next?

There are many unanswered questions about this law and how it will interact with the existing Washington Family Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which provide unpaid job-protected leave for many of the same reasons.  We expect robust regulations to be passed before the effective date of January 1, 2020.  In the meantime, for your reading pleasure we provide this link to the full text of the Washington law.

*Please be patient!  We have over 2 years to implement this law.  In the meantime, we are working diligently to be ready for the New York paid family leave law and the ERISA disability claims handling rules changes, both effective January 1, 2018!  You can find prior posts on the New York law here  and here.  A primer on the new ERISA regulations is available here.

 

 

MATRIX CAN HELP!  Matrix provides leave, disability, and accommodation management services to employers seeking a comprehensive and compliant solution to these complex employer obligations. We monitor the many leave laws being passed around the country and specialize in understanding how they work together. For leave management and accommodation assistance, contact us at ping@matrixcos.com.

Paid Parental Leave 2017:  It’s Not Your Mama’s Maternity Leave

Posted on: January 31, 2017 0

By Marti Cardi, VP-Product Compliance

We’ve all seen the headlines over the past two years:  “XYZ Company Adopts Expansive Paid Parental Leave Policy.”  News coverage of paid parental leave (PPL) increased tremendously in 2015-2016 over prior years, fueled by the numerous PPL implementations by big-name companies.

Key questions that arise in assessing the increase in company PPL plans include: Why now…finally? What motivates employers to adopt PPL plans? What lessons can employers learn from the trailblazers’ experiences? What’s next for PPL? We’ll do our best to answer these below.

In mid-January the Integrated Benefit Institute (IBI) hosted an event in San Jose to present the findings of its 2016 study of the tech industry’s burgeoning PPL policies.  The study, “. . . And Baby Makes Three (Months Off)”, attempts to answer the above questions and more.  At the event, representatives from Facebook, Intuit, and Adobe participated in a panel discussion of their companies’ PPL programs and provided their thoughts and experiences on these issues as well.  (And many thanks to Facebook and Intuit for sharing their positive experiences with Matrix as their third party administrator!)

The following information is based on IBI’s report (well worth a read in its entirety) and input from the panel and other employers at the conference.

Why Now?
Social and economic factors explain only so much.  Yes, tech industry players have been competing fiercely for talent in recent years, but data show that the NASDAQ was booming in 2009, signaling the end of the recession.  Along with this came declining unemployment rates overall and specifically in the tech industry.  Yet that was not enough to set off a huge jump in PPL as an employee benefit.

Several events from 2009 forward may have created or contributed to the momentum:

  • In 2009, the New Jersey paid family leave program took effect. (California’s paid family leave program took effect in 2002.)
  • In 2012 Marissa Meyer was hired as Yahoo! CEO – while she was pregnant.
  • In 2013 Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, published Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
  • The White House Summit on Working Families was held in June 2014, which brought together advocates for such issues as paid family leave, paid sick time, flexible scheduling, and equal opportunities in the workplace.
  • In July 2014, the EEOC released its Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, which made clear that parental leave policies that favor one gender over the other violate federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex or pregnancy.

Whatever the cause, U.S. employers are embracing paid parental leave – and in some cases paid family leave – in ever greater numbers and with increasingly generous plans.

What Motivates Employers?
With these events as a backdrop, IBI conducted interviews with 15 established tech companies to discover the motivations driving their adoption of paid parental leave.  These fell into four broad categories:

  • Compete for talent – most companies have no drive to be #1 in PPL offerings, but want to be competitive by offering a reasonable amount of PPL.
  • Support existing corporate social values – companies want a policy that comports with other expressed corporate values, such as being “family friendly”.
  • Formalize and coordinate myriad and conflicting local, state, federal, and company leave policies.
  • De-stigmatize females in workplace – make parental leave equally available to men so women won’t be viewed as taking their jobs less seriously by taking leave.

At the conference, employers also indicated they were motivated by recent legislation requiring paid parental or paid family leave, specifically San Francisco (effective 1/1/17) and New York State (effective 1/1/18).

Key Lessons for Employers
The IBI interviews and the conference participants provided three key lessons for employers considering adopting a paid parental or paid family leave program.  Undoubtedly there are many more but here’s a start:

First, design a policy for what YOUR business is trying to accomplish.  Don’t feel pressured just to do what everyone else is doing.  Carefully analyze your company’s philosophies, strategies, operational needs, and other factors.   Then, design a plan that will mesh with and support those factors.  This is not a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all issue.

Second, leverage your company’s FMLA and disability experiences to design and manage a program that will help maintain business performance.  You probably already have a lot of experience in similar leave issues – FMLA, state leaves, disability plans, company policies, etc.  Use that experience to understand your employees’ leave usage and its impact on business operations.

Finally, focus on improving the employee’s return-to-work experience after an extended leave.  A new parent may have difficulty going from parental bonding leave on Sunday to full and productive engagement upon return to work on Monday.   Consider easing the employee back to work with a part-time return schedule.  Make sure the supervisor doesn’t have an impossible list of tasks waiting for the employee the first day back.  On the other hand, ensure that the supervisor and co-workers don’t exclude the returning employee from ongoing projects; rather, design a means to bring the employee up to speed and start contributing.

What’s Next for PPL?
Many questions remain as the United States tries to join the rest of the industrialized world to provide adequate paid parental and family leave. There is no “standard” PPL program at this point.  Employer discussions at the IBI event revealed numerous plan variations, including:

  • Paid maternity leave for the birth mothers only, funded by disability plans.
  • Equal paid parental leave for all parents, with birth mothers also getting the disability/maternity leave.
  • Equal total leave for all parents, with the birth mother’s leave being partially funded by a disability plan.
  • Paid family leave that includes both bonding leave but also time off to care for other family members.
  • Paid parental time off ranging from 6 weeks to 12 months.
  • Different amounts of paid leave depending on whether the employee self-identifies as the primary or secondary caregiver.
  • Intermittent bonding leave – disallowed completely by some employers, while others allow intermittent leave in as small as one-day increments.
  • Pay provided at a percentage of the employee’s compensation or fully paid at 100%.
  • Coverage extended to assist with adoption proceedings and/or infertility treatments, or to care for foster children.

Other challenges and questions for the future of PPL in the United States include:

  • How can companies keep up with and comply with state and local laws?
  • Can paid family leave programs solve the issue of perceived unfairness, such as birth mothers getting more time than other new parents under most plans?
  • The IBI study is based on tech industry. What are the implications and likely trends for other industries?
  • Will today’s plan designs suit the upcoming parenting years of the Millennials, or will changes be needed?
  • Will the Trump presidency have any impact on the future of PPL in the United States? Trump’s campaign platform included a belated and tepid paid leave proposal – up to 6 weeks for the birth mother only, funded and administered by the existing federal unemployment program, and available only if the employer does not provide other maternity leave benefits.

What is YOUR company doing or considering in the world of paid parental and family leave?  Please share with us in the comments section below.

My thanks to IBI and its Director of Research and Measurement, Brian Gifford, Ph.D, for hosting the event and sharing such valuable information with the employer community.

MATRIX CAN HELP!  We closely track the trends and legislation relating to paid parental and family leave, and will keep you posted on legislative, agency, and court developments through this blog and our monthly On Your Radar update.

Matrix Absence Management provides leave, disability, and accommodation management services to employers seeking a comprehensive and compliant solution to these complex employer obligations. At Matrix we monitor the many state and municipal family and sick leave laws being passed around the country and specialize in understanding how they work together. For leave management and accommodation assistance, contact us at ping@matrixcos.com.