Early New Year's PFML Toast to Oregon and Colorado

by Rebecca Ford - Product Director - Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co, Strategy Product and Marketing

& Shelby Felton, Esq. - Director - Matrix Absence Management, Product Compliance

& Marti Cardi, Esq. - Senior Compliance Consultant, Matrix Absence Management

December 15, 2022

 

We recently posted an update on the New Hampshire voluntary paid family and medical leave program. But that's not the only state with significant events happening when the ball drops on December 31, 2022! Here's what's happening starting January 1, 2023, in Oregon and Colorado.

Oregon Milestones. With a robust 5½ weeks to spare, on November 23, 2022, Paid Leave Oregon issued its final scheduled permanent administrative order with planned rulemaking for the program. Originally, the Paid Leave Oregon program anticipated 5 batches of rulemaking; however, they anticipate the release of Batch 6 in April 2023 and Batch 7 in August 2023. Batch 6 addresses employer size and rules specific to the Oregon Employment Department. It is anticipated that Batch 7 will be a miscellaneous catch-all for any rules requiring clarification. In addition to the Paid Leave Oregon statutory requirements, we now have more detailed information such as what income is considered "wages," benefit rules, appeal language, and equivalent plan rules. Paid Leave Oregon has linked the Oregon Secretary of State page with all the finalized rules.

Oregon Deadlines. On January 1, 2023, the party really starts because employers are required to post the model notice poster in each building or worksite that is accessible and frequented by employees. The poster must also be sent by hand delivery, regular mail, or electronically to all remote employees (including current remote employees, new remote hires, and new assignments to remote employment). The notice must be posted/provided in the language in which the employer uses to communicate with employees (which may require you to provide the poster in multiple languages).

Beginning January 1, 2023, employers without an approved equivalent plan must set aside employee contributions in a separate bank account and pay the employee and employer contributions to Paid Leave Oregon by the 30th day following the close of each quarter. Once the employer receives approval of an equivalent plan, the employer may use the employee contributions to fund the plan, including payment of employee benefits as well as fees to a plan administrator or insurance carrier premiums.

As soon as possible, employers should file their equivalent plan applications because once their plan is approved they can stop paying employee/employer contributions to the state program. Applications can be filed at any time. However, there is a slight glitch. Insured private plans can't be filed until the form of the policy is approved by the Oregon Department of Insurance, which will depend on when the carrier files and when the Department of Insurance completes its review. Self-funded plans can be filed at any time, and Matrix has a plan template for use by our clients. Plans can be filed by logging on to the Frances Online portal.

By May 31, 2023, employers who filed a declaration of intent (had to have been filed by November 30, 2022) to have an equivalent plan with Paid Leave Oregon must file their equivalent plan application. If an employer who filed a declaration does not complete their equivalent plan application by this date, the employer will owe contributions retroactively from January 1, 2023. Otherwise, equivalent plan applications can be filed at any time, but the employer will have to pay contributions to the state program until the effective date of an approved plan. Employers will not be able to collect employee contributions retroactively, which is why it is important to set them aside beginning January 1, 2023.

On September 3, 2023, benefits are available for covered leaves and employees can start applying for benefits.

Colorado Milestones. We could already hear the noise makers for the Colorado FAMLI program on December 1st when the My FAMLI+ Employer portal opened for employers to begin to register with the program. Unlike the Paid Leave Oregon plan, employers did not have to file a declaration of intent. Colorado's rulemaking process is complete. FAMLI is revising a self-insured template which they hope to publish before February 2023 (Matrix is the key informal advisor to the FAMLI Division on this template) and the Department of Insurance is currently working on carrier filing guidance for fully-insured private plans. Finally, Colorado has posted a toolkit for employers including a paycheck stuffer, pay stub sample, and an employee handbook.

Colorado Deadlines. On January 1, 2023, Colorado employers must also join the party by posting the required 2023 notice in the workplace, posting it electronically, and on an ongoing basis, by providing it to newly hired employees and those experiencing a FAMLI qualifying event. Private plans must also provide notice of adopting a private plan at least 30 days prior to the plan's effective date or immediately upon hire.

Beginning January 1, 2023, all employers (whether interested in a private plan or the state plan) are required to remit employer/employee contributions to the Colorado FAMLI state fund. This is different than the Paid Leave Oregon program.

In February 2023, we hope employers will be able to file private plan applications because once an employer receives their approval from the Colorado FAMLI Division, they may stop contributions to the state fund and request a refund of those funds. Then, the employer has two options: either they can issue a refund to the employees who contributed to the plan (if the employer is paying the full plan premium) or the employer can use the collected funds to pay for the administration of the private plan. Employers can only continue to collect employee contributions after approval if the carrier allows for premium payments prior to the effective date of coverage, which most do not. If an employer opts for a self-funded plan, we hope to have a template approved before February and those applications will be approved on a rolling basis. Similarly, the Department of Insurance will not be able to accept carrier policy filings until early February, which means employers interested in a fully-insured plan will not be able to complete their application until after the carrier filing is approved by the Colorado Department of Insurance.

By April 30, 2023, all employers are required to log-in and register for My FAMLI+ Employer. Also by this date, employers without an approved private plan must pay employer and employee contributions for the first quarter (January-March) at the My FAMLI+ Employer portal.

October 31, 2023, is the deadline to submit private plan applications to the Colorado FAMLI Division to have an opportunity to receive a full refund of 2023 contributions. Plans must be approved by January 1, 2024, to be eligible for the refund.

January 1, 2024, is when employees can begin applying for and receiving FAMLI benefits.

Matrix and Reliance can help with your PFML party planning!

Knowing that these party deadlines are looming, grab your champagne glass and your party hat and contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager or send us a message at ping@matrixcos.com before the ball drops.