MORE COVID PAID LEAVE? BIDEN’S AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

Posted On January 19, 2021  

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

January 19, 2021

 

On January 14, 2021, President-Elect Biden announced his American Rescue Plan.  The Plan includes more employer-provided COVID-related paid leave.  If enacted, his plan would:

  • Reinstate the FFCRA paid leave provisions and extend the requirements to all employers (expanding coverage from private employers with fewer than 500 employees and eliminating the financial hardship exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees).
  • Eliminate the exemptions for healthcare workers and first responders.
  • Provide “over 14 weeks” of paid sick leave and family and medical leave for school or care center closures, caring for others with COVID-19, quarantining after exposure, and getting vaccinated. The make-up of that “over 14 weeks” of leave is not explained. The inclusion of “care center” closures makes me wonder if that is referring only to daycare for children, or could expand to include closure of care centers for adult family members in need of daily assistance.
  • Extend all paid leave to federal workers. Under FFCRA in 2020, federal employees were eligible for paid sick leave but not expanded paid FMLA for school closures.
  • Provide a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per week. Mr. Biden’s Plan Fact Sheet (link below) indicates this will provide full wage replacement for workers earning up to $73,000 per year.
  • Provide a 100% tax credit to employers with fewer than 500 employees, but not to larger employers.
  • Reimburse state and local governments for the cost of the leave.
  • Remain in effect from passage until September 30, 2021.

Here is Mr. Biden’s American Rescue Plan Fact Sheet.  The paid leave provisions are on pages 7-8:  Biden Transition COVID Relief Package Fact Sheet - DocumentCloud

There are lots of missing details.  As of this writing, the U.S. House of Representatives has not yet proposed a 2021 bill with these or similar features, but it’s early days yet!  Matrix will be watching for further developments.  To us, the bigger question with longer-term impact is, will the U.S. Congress pass a federal paid family and medical leave bill for broader purposes such as the leave reasons protected by the unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act?

KICKSTART FOR 2021 – AN UPDATE TO GET THE NEW YEAR GOING

Posted On January 04, 2021  

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

January 04, 2021

 

Although there are still challenges ahead – there are always challenges – I think I speak for us all when I say I am happy to rip off that last page of the 2020 calendar and start with a brand new, fresh and hopeful 2021 model. Let’s look at a quick rundown of the latest developments in the world of absence management and accommodations:

  • Status of FFCRA – tax credits only
  • Electronic communications under the FMLA – telemedicine anyone?
  • Massachusetts PFML update, including the new Emergency Regulation 3.0
  • Connecticut PFML update – are you doing what you are supposed to?
  • California expansion of CFRA – more employers and family members covered and basis for taking CFRA.

Sure, it’s a lot to cover but we’ve tried to boil it down to the essentials and provide links to other information sources. And hey, if you can’t be ambitious on the first full business day of the new year, when can you be?

FFCRA tax credit extension – and nothing else. As we reported here, Congress passed a new COVID-19 relief bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA 2021), on December 21, 2020. Although President Trump threatened a veto for various reasons, he finally signed the bill on December 27. The bill contains no extension or expansion of the emergency paid sick leave or the expanded paid FMLA for school closures provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Those mandated paid leaves expired on December 31, 2020, regardless of whether an employee had used all of his/her entitlement. On the other hand, the tax credits provided for wages paid by private employers as required by FFCRA have been extended by 3 months, for FFCRA-like wages voluntarily paid by employers through March 31, 2021.

On December 31, the U.S. Department of Labor released new guidance on the expiration of FFCRA paid sick leave and paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for school closures. The DOL’s interpretation of the CAA 2021 is consistent with the above summary but also makes clear that the DOL will retain enforcement authority over employers’ leave responsibilities while the FFCRA’s paid leave requirements were in effect, even after these leave entitlements have expired. See the DOL’s FFCRA Questions and Answers, new questions 104 and 105.

FMLA in a COVID world – DOL addresses telemedicine and electronic posting. Recognizing the realities of social distancing and remote workplaces, on December 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor released 2 new Field Advisory Bulletins (FABs).

  • Electronic posting. FAB 2020-7 addresses when the DOL will consider “posting” of the employee notices required by several federal laws by email or an internet or intranet website to satisfy the employer’s posting obligations. The FMLA regulations already permit electronic posting of the general FMLA notice as long as the electronic posting otherwise meets the regulatory posting requirements. See 29 U.S.C. § 2619(a); 29 C.F.R. § 825.300(a)(1). FAB 2020-7 further explains that the DOL will consider electronic posting to satisfy the FMLA posting requirements where there is no physical establishment at which employees are employed or interviewing or hiring takes place, and the electronic posting is accessible to employees and applicants at all times. The FAB does not address electronic posting in situations where an employer may have employees both working remotely and others working at a company facility or applicants applying remotely. Common sense would dictate that the employer should use both methods of posting so that each employee and applicant, regardless of work or hiring location, has access to the required poster.
  • Telemedicine health care visits. FAB 2020-8 addresses when the DOL will consider telemedicine an “in-person” visit for the purposes of establishing a serious health condition qualifying for protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

A serious health condition exists when the employee is receiving “continuing treatment by a health care provider.” The term “treatment” includes “examinations to determine if a serious health condition exists and evaluations of the condition.” See 29 CFR § 825.113(c). The regulations also provide that treatment by a health care provider means an “in-person” visit to a health care provider. See 29 CFR § 825.115(a)(3).

According to the DOL, to be considered an “in-person” visit, the telemedicine visit must include:

  • an examination, evaluation, or treatment by a health care provider
  • be permitted and accepted by state licensing authorities; and
  • generally, should be performed by video conference.

Communication methods that do not meet these criteria (e.g., a simple telephone call, letter, email, or text message) are insufficient, by themselves, to satisfy the regulatory requirement of an “in-person” visit.

This FAB is consistent with FAQ #12 of the DOL’s frequently asked questions about the FMLA and pandemic conditions issued on July 20, 2020, which states, in part, “Until December 31, 2020, the [DOL] will consider telemedicine visits to be in-person visits . . . , for purposes of establishing a serious health condition under the FMLA.”

The requirement that the telemedicine visit be performed by video conference could be problematic for employees who don’t have internet access or have limited internet programs, equipment, or skills. (Thinking of my own old desktop that works fine but doesn’t have a camera!) At Matrix Absence Management we have been accepting FMLA (and STD) certifications that result from a telemedicine visit since early in the pandemic and will work with our clients’ employees to ensure the best opportunity possible to provide a sufficient certification during the pandemic.

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave – It’s here! Starting January 1, your Massachusetts employees are now able to take paid family and medical leave. You can learn more by searching for “Massachusetts” in the search box for this blog, above, or visit the website for the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave. Matrix offers management of MA PFML private plans and our sister company Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co. offers an insured private plan. But if you are going it alone with the state plan, the DFML has some helpful materials, including information on the employee application process and timeline with a DFML Application Timeline chart and an explanation of the employer's role in the state claim administrative process.

What do you need to be aware of now? Employers have ongoing workplace posting and new hire notice requirements so don’t slack on your obligations. And remember, the MA PFML leave is job protected (meaning reinstatement to the same or equivalent position following leave) and there is a presumption of retaliation for any negative employment action taken during or within 6 months after an employee’s MA PFML leave or other related activities. Are your HR and management personnel trained and ready?

Oh, and the MA PFML emergency regulation. The MA DFML has passed Emergency Regulation 3.0 authorizing “acute care hospitals” to allow delayed bonding leave in 2021.

But don’t stop reading – employers in other industries may apply to the DFML to extend the period in which an employee may schedule family bonding leave in the same manner as allowed for acute care hospitals. The Director, in his discretion, may grant or deny any such request after considering likely effects on public health and safety and the public interest.

An acute care hospital is defined as a hospital licensed under M.G.L. c. 111, § 51 and the teaching hospital of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The Emergency Regulation applies to all acute care hospitals regardless of whether they are providing MA PFML benefits through the state plan administered by the DFML or through a private plan.

In essence, employers that are acute care hospitals may allow an employee who received a new child in 2020 (by birth, adoption, or foster placement) and who wants to take bonding leave in 2021 to complete that leave any time in 2021, not necessarily within 12 months of the birth/placement as is normally the rule. The employee cannot be required to delay bonding leave and the employer doesn’t have to agree to the delay.

Here’s an example:

  • Baby adopted on 4/1/2020
  • Normally, the parent will need to take MA PFML for bonding between 1/1/2021 and 4/1/2021 (after the effective date of MA PFML and within 1 year of the birth or placement of the new child)
  • Under the emergency regulation, an employee of an acute care hospital can delay that leave to later in 2021 – for example to start in September 2021 and be completed by 12/31/2021

The reason for the Emergency Regulation is to try to soften the early-2021 crunch for bonding at a time when medical staff are in high need due to COVID. I’ll be surprised if this is effective. The employer cannot require the employee to delay bonding leave until later in 2021, so I would guess many hospital employees who received a child in 2020 will welcome the chance to take paid bonding leave in January to get a respite from COVID work or exposure. In any event, the regulation specifically says that employers who are acute care hospitals may initiate discussions with employees eligible for the extension to determine if they intend to request the allowable extension. Just be sure not to coerce!

The Emergency Regulation was final on December 21, 2020, and expires after 3 months due to the requirements of the emergency regulation process under MA law. We might see another emergency regulation at that time, or the passage of a nonemergency regulation in the meantime.

Connecticut paid family and medical leave requirements make their debut. The latest PFML program launched in Connecticut on January 1. The first phase is the mandatory (in most cases) withholding of employee contributions in the amount of 0.5% of wages and payment of the employee contributions to the CT Paid Leave Authority quarterly. Employers with private plans approved by the CT Paid Leave Authority by March 31, 2021, do not have to pay the employee contributions to the Authority. In addition, they can elect not to withhold contributions from employee paychecks and to fund the private plan themselves. Private plans approved at a later date will have these same benefits as of the start of the quarter at least 30 days after Authority approval of the plan.

The Authority has cut employers a little slack on the timing of early employee contributions – perhaps recognizing that they did not get the program off the ground as early as would have been helpful. Normally employers cannot withhold from employee paychecks retroactively – meaning that if an employer missed withholding from an employee paycheck in one pay period, it cannot make that up but withholding more than the 0.5% in a later pay period. The Authority has stated that, if an employer does not withhold enough from an employee’s wages, the Department of Labor allows for a very limited “catch-up” period of no longer than the first two quarters of 2021. In order to “catch up”, the employer may not take more than one percent of an employee’s pay per paycheck.

In a prior post available here, we summarized the 3 important steps employers need to be doing now: (1) register your business (supposedly by December 31, 2020, but better late than never!); (2) decide whether you want to adopt a private plan to meet your CT PFML obligations; and (3) get ready for withholding employee contributions starting January 1.

We now have even more helpful CT PFML material. You will find an informative employer guide here, covering the requirements of the law and many other “need to know” facts. And if you want to consider a private plan, contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager or practice leader – we have extensive materials to aid you in preparing for the employee approval vote.

You can also visit the CT Paid Leave website for more information.

California Expands CFRA. We’ve written about this before, but it bears a reminder. On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 1383 into law. The new law significantly expands coverage under the California Family Rights Act. The following changes took effect January 1, 2021:

  • Expands CFRA to cover any employer with 5 or more employees (currently, employer coverage starts at 50 or more employees)
  • Eliminates the exception from coverage if an employer employs fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite where the employee is employed
  • Repeals the New Parent Leave Act (currently the NPLA provides bonding leave for employees of employers with 20-49 employees)
  • Expands covered relationships from child, parent, spouse, and domestic partner to include grandparent, grandchild, and sibling
  • Removes the age limit to care for a child; leave will be available to care for a child under age 18 or an adult dependent child
  • Allows parents who are employed by the same employer to each have the full 12 weeks of bonding leave without sharing the CFRA entitlement
  • Adds as a covered leave reason qualifying military exigencies related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee's spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces
  • Eliminates the “key employee” exception allowing an employer to deny coverage if the employee is a salaried employee who is among the highest paid 10% of the employer's employees

Matrix is now administering the expanded CFRA for claims filed on or after January 1, 2021.

Matrix can help! The wide array of new leave laws, including significantly the various state paid family and medical leave laws, is a challenge for employers. Matrix tracks state and federal legislative developments and reports on them on this blog. But that’s not all we do! We have other resources for you as well. For an overview of state paid leave laws, including employee eligibility, employer and employee contributions, and employee benefits, check out our chart of all state-mandated paid leave programs here.

And if you need help managing those state PFML programs, we’re your source! Matrix offers PFML management services in all states that allow private plans, and Reliance Standard offers insured plans where applicable. If your company is interested in a private plan to meet your Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, or other state paid leave obligations, coordinate with your other leave administration and paid leave policies, and avoid the turmoil of state administration, contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager or practice leader now!

NO EXTENSION OF FFCRA PAID SICK LEAVE/SCHOOL CLOSURE LEAVE; TAX CREDIT EXTENDED FOR 3 MONTHS

Posted On December 23, 2020  

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

December 23, 2020

 

FFCRA 300x300As of this writing, Congress has passed a new COVID-19 relief bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, but President Trump responded with a hissy fit and the threat of a veto.  However, the paltry tax credit extension discussed in this post has not been brought up for criticism and so is likely to remain as is despite any other revisions the bill may undergo.  If anything changes, though, you can bet we’ll write about it here.

The bill has surprised many of us as it contains no extension or expansion of the emergency paid sick leave or the expanded paid FMLA for school closures provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  Those mandated paid leaves expire on December 31, 2020, regardless of whether an employee has used all of his/her entitlement. If you need a refresher on the paid leave provisions of FFCRA you can check out our prior blog post here.

Tax credit extended.  On the other hand, the tax credit provided for wages paid by private employers as required by FFCRA have been extended by 3 months, for FFCRA-like wages paid through March 31, 2021.  What does this mean, you ask?  Great question.  The language of the CAA is poorly constructed.  But here is what appears to be the best interpretation:

  • There is no requirement for employers to provide further emergency paid sick leave or expanded FMLA leave for school closures after December 31, 2020.
  • An employer may choose to do so voluntarily, but further school closure leave will not count against an employee’s basic FMLA 12-week entitlement.
  • If such leave is paid in accordance with the FFCRA requirements applicable up to December 31, 2020, the employer can still claim a tax credit for wages paid through March 31, 2021.
  • However, the employer cannot claim a total tax credit in 2020 and 2021 combined for more wages per individual than the amount of paid leave required by FFCRA in 2020 – that is, 80 hours or part time equivalent of paid sick leave and 10 out of the 12 weeks of expanded FMLA, at the rates of pay specified in FFCRA.

What do employers need to do now?

  • Decide right away whether you are going to allow more FFCRA-like paid leave on a voluntary basis. If you do, apply that decision consistently across the board – either all employees with a qualifying reason can still take FFCRA-like paid leave through March 31 or none can. This includes both continuation of existing leaves and new leaves for a qualifying reason in the first 3 months of 2021.Of course, you can always allow such leave for as long and in such amounts as you choose through a company policy leave program.

    Be aware that if you do not continue FFCRA-like leaves into 2021, some employees may already be on continuous or intermittent leaves that would otherwise extend into 2021 and these will end on December 31, 2020. 

  • If you decide you are going to allow more FFCRA-like leave and care about the tax credit, be sure to get the documentation the IRS will require to support the credits. We previously summarized the IRS guidance for claiming the tax credit here.
  • Regardless of your decision on continued FFCRA-like leaves in 2021, remember that there are still many state and municipal laws, governors’ proclamations, and the like that provide at least temporary COVID-related leaves and job protections. And don’t forget the Americans with Disabilities Act as it may apply in this COVID world.

If Matrix is managing your FFCRA expanded FMLA leave for school closures, get in touch with your account manager right away to let us know your decision regarding continuation of these leaves into 2021.  We cannot charge any such leave against an employee’s FMLA entitlement after December 31, 2020, so all such pending leaves will be closed as of that date.  But we do have options for you, including switching the time requested to a personal leave of absence or instituting a company policy leave for school closures.  Congress has left us with very little time to deal with this situation, but we will do our best to stay up to date with our clients’ directions.

Matrix can help.  At Matrix we have developed a variety of pandemic-related leaves for employers that don’t have existing policies to cover all the COVID-related situations, such as leave due to quarantine or school closures.  If you are interested in learning more about these options, contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager, or send a message to ping@matrixcos.com.

COLORADO PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

Posted On December 14, 2020  

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

December 14, 2020

 

For several years the Colorado legislature tried without success to pass paid family and medical leave legislation.  In 2020 the voters took matters into their own hands and voted in favor of a ballot initiative (Proposition 118) to create a PFML program.  PFML geeks may recall that in Massachusetts in 2018 PFML supporters took the same route but in what came to be called The Grand Bargain, the legislature passed a PFML bill to keep voter initiatives off the ballot.  This did not occur in Colorado, perhaps because of its short legislative session that ends in mid-May or perhaps because of an inability to get consensus even in the face of a ballot measure.  In any event, Colorado PFML is now law and will be a reality soon. 

Some interesting features.  At Matrix we administer private plans for many state paid family and medical leave programs, and we are working on implementation of others so we’ve seen all kinds of PFML programs.  Here are some things we find interesting or encouraging about the Colorado program:

  • There is no waiting period – benefits are payable from the employee’s first day of covered leave.
  • There is only one 12-week bucket of leave entitlement for all leave reasons, rather than different buckets for things like the employee’s own serious health condition vs. family leave for bonding or caring for a family member (check out Massachusetts).
  • The law follows a new trend by providing an additional 4 weeks of leave available to an employee experiencing complications from pregnancy or childbirth.
  • The definition of “family member” also follows a recent trend of including someone who is not related by blood or marriage but is “like a family member” to the employee.
  • The statute is blessedly specific on concurrency of an employee’s use of federal FMLA, disability benefits, and paid time off.This prevents stacking of FMLA leave and leave during use of disability benefits (that is, sequential rather than concurrent use).On the other hand, the law preserves the employee’s right to save employer-provided accrued time off for other purposes or choose to use it to top up PFML benefits to the employee’s average weekly wage.

Here are the details we know now, based on the new statute.

Topic

Description

Colorado Revised Statutes

Administration

  • State plan:Colorado Department of Labor
    • New Division of Family and Medical Leave Insuranceto be created, led by a Director
  • Private plans permitted
    • Must meet or exceed benefits provided under statute and not impose greater employee obligations
    • Insured by an insurer approved by the state
    • Self-funded – requires a bond

§8-13.3-408

§8-13.3-421

Contributions / Premiums

  • Start:January 1, 2023
  • Amount:
    • 2023-2024:0.9% of employee’s wages
    • 2025 and after:rate may be adjusted according to a described formula but not to exceed 1.2% of employee’s wages
    • Wages subject to contribution capped at federal SSA limit
    • Employer can require employees to contribute up to ½ of total premium
    • Employers with fewer than 10 employees do not have to contribute the employer’s share of premiums to the state; must still contribute the employees’ share

§8-13.3-416(1)

§8-13.3-407

Benefits

  • Start:January 1, 2024
  • Amount:
    • 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) that is equal to or less than 50% of the state AWW
    • PLUS
    • 50% of the employee’s AWW that is greater than 50% of the state AWW
  • Maximum weekly benefit:90% of state AWW
  • Exception:for benefits beginning before 1/1/2025, the maximum benefit will be $1,100 per week

§8-13.3-416(1)

§8-13.3-406

Employee Eligibility

“Covered Individual” means any person who:

  • Earned at least $2500 in wages subject to premiums during the base period OR
  • Elects coverage for a minimum of 3 years (e.g., self-employed, sole proprietor, independent contractor, employees of local governments that have opted out of coverage, etc.)

NOTE: We use the term “employee” throughout this article

§8-13.3-403(3) §8-13.3-414

“Base Period”

  • Base period: first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of the individual's benefit year
  • Alternative base period:last 4 completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the benefit year

NOTE: Benefit year is not defined; probably should refer to Application Year – see below

§8-70-103(1.5) and (2)

Covered Employers

  • Private employers:
    • With 1 or more employees during 20 weeks in the current or prior calendar year; or
    • Who paid wages of $1,500 or more during any quarter in the prior calendar year
  • The state and political subdivisions
  • The federal government is excluded

§8-13.3-403(8)

Local Government Opt-out

  • Local governments may opt out of CO PFML coverage
  • “Local government” means any county, city and county, city, or town, school district, special district, authority, or other political subdivision of the state

§8-13.3-422

§29-1-204.5(3)(b)

Total Leave Entitlement

  • 12 weeks in an Application Year
  • Additional 4 weeks for a serious health condition related to pregnancy complications or childbirth complications

§8-13.3-405(1)

Waiting Period

None

 

Leave Reasons

  • Employee’s serious health condition
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Bonding with a new child during the first year after birth, adoption, or placement
  • Qualifying military exigency
  • Safe leave (leaves related to the employee or a family member being a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault or abuse)

§8-13.3-404

§8-13.3-403(16)

§8-13.3-404(18)

Covered Relationships

  • Child of any age*
  • Parent*
  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Grandparent*
  • Grandchild*
  • Sibling*
  • Like a family member:Any individual with whom the employee has a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship, regardless of biological or legal relationship

*NOTE: These relationships include biological, foster, adoptive, step, and in loco parentis relationships and the same relationships to the employee’s spouse or domestic partner, if applicable

§8-13.3-403(11)

 

Leave Year Calculation Methods

Application Year: 12-month period beginning on the first day of the calendar week in which an employee files an application for PFML benefits

§8-13.3-403(1)

Leave Increments

  • 1hour OR
  • Smaller increments if consistent with employer’s increments for other employee leave
  • Benefits not payable until employee accumulates at least 8 hours of PFML usage

§8-13.3-405(3)

Employee Documentation

CO PFML Division will develop claims procedures and forms, including

  • Certification from a health care provider for proof of a serious health condition and
  • Documentation of need for safe leave

§8-13.3-416(2)

Employee Notice to Employer

  • 30 days if leave is foreseeable
  • Such notice as is practicable if leave is not foreseeable or if 30 days is not possible

§8-13.3-405(5)

Employee Notices to Employees

  • CO PFML Division will develop notice materials with details of the CO PFML program for employer use
  • Employers will be required to provide written notice to employees:
    • By posting in the workplace
    • Upon hire
    • Upon learning an employee is experiencing an event that would be covered by CO PFML

§8-13.3-411

Coordination with Other Leaves and Benefits

  • FMLA:CO PFML runs concurrently with federal FMLA, if applicable
  • STD:Employer may require employee to use STD or similar benefits concurrently with CO PFML
  • Accrued paid time off (PTO) (vacation, sick leave, etc.):
    • Employer cannot require employee to use PTO prior to or while receiving CO PFML benefits
    • Employer and employee may agree that an employee can use PTO while receiving CO PFML benefits, up to employee’s AWW

§8-13.3-410

Job & Benefits Protection

  • If employee has been employed with current employer for at least 180 days prior to commencement of PFML leave, restoration after leave to same or equivalent position and terms and conditions of employment
  • Continuation of health care benefits during leave

§8-13.3-409

Employer Reimbursement

Employer can receive reimbursement from state program or private plan insurance carrier for advance payments made by employer equal to or greater than CO PFML benefits

§8-13.3-415

 

Matrix can help!  State by state, the number of paid family and medical leave laws keeps growing.  You don’t have to go it alone!  At Matrix we administer private paid family and/or medical leave and benefits plans in many states, including California, New Jersey, New York, Washington, and the upcoming Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon.  If you would like to learn more about paid family and medical leaves and the benefits of having a private or voluntary plan, contact your Reliance Standard or Matrix account manager with questions or send a message to ping@matrixcos.com, and keep watching this space for more information.

TIME TO GET A GRIP ON CONNECTICUT PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE!

Posted On November 30, 2020  

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Vice President, Product Compliance

November 30, 2020

 

Massachusetts PFML isn’t the only law bringing new consequences with the new year. Some parts of Connecticut PFML are also going into effect on January 1, 2021, and if you have even one Connecticut employee, you have things to do. We’ll provide you with a starter list here, but please register to join our CT PFML webinar on Thursday, December 3 at 2:00 Eastern.

If you don’t have Connecticut employees, it still pays to tune in to learn what various states are doing – it may be on your company’s horizon soon!

Connecticut Family and Medical Leave is coming faster than you think. Join us Thursday December 3rd @ 2pm EST for an overview of what we know and what comes next. Register here!

For Connecticut employers, here’s what you need to do now:

  1. Register your business with the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority (the Authority) The Authority is charged with developing and administering the CT PFML program. All employers with one or more Connecticut employee must register by December 31, 2020, to ensure receipt of important information from the Authority as issued.

    Determine who in your organization will be responsible for completing the registration process and setting up your employer account on the Authority’s website. That individual will need to supply the following information during registration:
    • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
    • Number of Connecticut employees
    • Total annual payroll for Connecticut employees
    • Payroll frequency
    • Intention to apply for an exemption (private plan)
    • How your business will remit payments on behalf of employees
    Note: Prior to registering with the Authority, be sure your business has established a state identity at https://stg.login.ct.gov/ctidentity/registration.
  2. Consider whether you want a private plan. Although you can file for approval of a CT PFML private plan at any time, there is a financial incentive to act soon. Employers with plans provisionally approved by March 31, 2021, will not have to pay the employee PFML contribution of 0.5% to the Authority for Q1 2021 but can either waive that cost for employees or use the employee contributions to fund the private plan. The process for approval of a private plan requires an affirmative vote by the majority of your Connecticut employees and other steps that will take time, so it’s best to get started right away. NOTE: The provisional private plan approval date to avoid paying employee contributions to the Authority for Q1 2021 was originally March 1, 2021, but has been changed in Authority communications to March 31, 2021.
  3. Get ready to withhold employee payroll deductions. Some employers elect to cover the costs of a state PFML program themselves. However, in Connecticut, if the employer is using the state plan the employer cannot cover the employees' contributions and must withhold the 0.5% contribution from employee paychecks. Employers with private plans may elect to cover the employee costs but you may not know if you have a provisionally approved private plan until after January 1, 2021. So, consider planning to withhold from employee paychecks starting January 1 and either refund the employee contributions if your plan is approved, or use those contributions to date toward plan costs and cease withholdings going forward. If you know your company is going to have the employees pay their statutory share, get ready to start withholding employee payroll contributions as of January 1, 2021.

MATRIX CAN HELP!

We are experts on all state PFML programs. If you need help in any state contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager. And if you can’t make it to the CT PFML webinar on December 3, watch this space for timely updates and contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager or ping us at ping@matrixcos.com to receive the webinar recording when ready.