SIX MONTHS AFTER PAID LEAVE "GO LIVE," CONNECTICUT'S EMPLOYER NOTICE REQUIREMENT TAKES EFFECT

Posted On June 13, 2022  

by Armando Rodriguez, Esq - Product Compliance Counsel, Compliance And Legal Department

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

June 13, 2022

 

UPDATE - June 17, 2022

Many employers have been concerned about the short period of time to comply with this notice requirement. Even though it has been in the Connecticut PFML statute for a couple of years, details about the notice requirement were just released this month.

Well good things DO happen sometimes! Since we originally posted this article the Connecticut Department of Labor has informally stated that employer compliance by July 31, 2022, will be sufficient. Moreover, the DOL indicated that if a complaint was filed against an employer based solely on the fact that notices were not issued by July 1, then no action would be taken by the CTDOL based solely on that fact. We assume that should also read, “as long as the employer complied by July 31."

Still, that’s not a lot of time, so don’t delay! Get the notice into your new hire paperwork by July 31, and it’s still a good idea to send the notice to ALL employees soon – by July 31 seems to be a good target!

Starting July 1, 2022, employers must provide employees with notice of their rights to Connecticut leave and pay benefits. This comes six months after Connecticut's Paid Family and Medical Leave (CT PFML) program went live and after the state's Family and Medical Leave Act (CT FMLA) was updated to better align with the CT PFML.

Why the delay? Who knows, but it was built that way in the statute. And make no mistake, the delay in the notice requirement does not excuse any employer noncompliance with these two complex laws in the interim.

This notice must include:

  • The employee's entitlement to leave under the CT FMLA, including leave for victims of domestic violence
  • The employee's right to file for payment under the CT PFML
  • That retaliation by the employer against the employee for requesting, applying for, or using CT FMLA is prohibited
  • The employee can file a complaint for any violations with the Labor Commissioner

Employers must provide their employees with the required notice at the time of hiring, and annually from then on. The Connecticut Department of Labor recently provided an optional prototype notice. You can find a copy here. You will notice the prototype contains significantly more information than the strict requirements of the statute listed above.

So exactly what must a Connecticut employer do as of July 1, 2022?

The statute does not contain any requirement to give the notice when an employee alerts the employer to the possible need for covered leave – nor is there a requirement to give all employees notice on or by July 1. Rather:

  • The notice is required for new employees hired on or after July 1, 2022, at the time of hire.
  • The notice is required "annually thereafter." This seems to create a gap allowing employers not to give any notice to employees hired before July 1.But we don't recommend adopting that interpretation. Clearly, the intent is to provide all employees periodic (annual) notice of their rights to job protected leave and pay benefits.

So we recommend:

  • Although notice is required, the prototype is not a required form for that notice; you can modify it to fit your culture or leave processes.
  • Review the prototype notice and if desired, add your company branding and any additional information you want employees to have relating to the Connecticut leave and pay benefits and your company policies. Look at the section entitled APPLYING FOR INCOME-REPLACEMENT BENEFITS UNDER CTPL on page 2:
    • If you have a private plan to provide the paid leave benefits, include information in the notice informing employees how to apply for benefits.
    • If you use the state plan, you can eliminate the general info in the prototype about private plans.
  • Once you have the form the way you want it (and ensure it is still compliant), include it in your new hire packet for employees hired on or after July 1, 2022.
  • Select a date (we recommend not too long after July 1) to provide the notice to all employees annually.
  • Optional actions to consider:
    • Include the notice in your employee handbook for Connecticut employees
    • Post the notice in your physical workplace(s) with other required employee notices and/or on your company intranet.

MATRIX CAN HELP!

Be it updates to state leave laws or the latest and greatest when it comes to new PFML programs, Matrix is here to help you stay on top of the changes. For more information about our solutions, please contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager, or reach us at ping@matrixcos.com.

THE WORK/LIFE SQUEEZE – FOCUS ON CAREGIVER LEAVES

Posted On August 06, 2018  

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

August 06, 2018

 

It is not often that trends in life, legal issues, and employment practices coincide, but we are in that situation now.  Increasing numbers of employees have caregiver responsibilities for family members – children, elderly parents, family members with health needs, and others. The legal protections for caregiver employees are broad and numerous, and growing every year.  Some employers are trying to get ahead of these issues by implementing family-friendly policies and benefits to assist employees dealing with caregiver responsibilities.   With approximately 1 in 6 American workers concurrently serving as caregivers for family members, we are seeing:

  • An increase in state laws that provide workplace protections and benefits – think state paid family and
    medical leaves like California, New York, and others. Washington State, District of Columbia, and
    Massachusetts have passed PFML laws and are on the horizon.   Watch this blog for reports on developments.
  • An increase in family caregiver benefits offered voluntarily by employers – partly to be competitive in this
    tight hiring market but also because it is the right thing to do. You can take look at what leading companies
    are doing regarding voluntary paid maternity, parental, and caregiver leave benefits in this resource from the
    National Partnership for Women and Families:
    Leading on Leave: Companies With New or Expanded Paid Leave Policies (2015-2018).
  • Increased employee success in lawsuits and EEOC charges based on caregiver responsibilities. For an excellent
    summary, check out   Caregivers in the Workplace – Family Responsibilities Discrimination Litigation Update 2016.

The Work/Life Squeeze: Policies and Protections for Caregiver Employees.  The DMEC’s Annual Conference is being held in Austin August 6-9.  I will have the pleasure of presenting on workplace caregiver issues during the conference.   My share of the presentation will focus on the legal protections (FMLA, ADA, Title VII, state laws, etc.).  My co-presenter is Jim Tierney, Sr. Program Manager, Total Absence Management, Corporate Benefits from Medtronic. He will discuss Medtronic’s new industry-leading caregiver paid leave program – providing not just paid maternity and bonding leave, but also paid leave for many other caregiver reasons, such as caring for an ill family member.

Please join Jim and me at the DMEC conference if you will be there – 1:30-2:30 Wednesday, August 8.

Medtronic, based in Minneapolis, is a global leader in medical technology, services, and solutions.

Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) is a national association dedicated to providing focused education, knowledge, and networking for absence and disability professionals.  Visit their website at http://dmec.org/.

We previously wrote about caregiver workplace protections in this blog postIt is still up to date except for the expansion of states that now or in the near future will provide paid family and medical leave benefits.

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.

THE NEEDLE IN THE TAX BILL HAYSTACK – A PAID FAMILY & MEDICAL LEAVE TAX CREDIT

Posted On January 04, 2018  

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

& Gail Cohen, Esq. - Assistant General Counsel, Employment and Litigation

January 04, 2018

 

 

One might think that the Trump administration would trumpet (ahem . . . ) the supposed family-friendly and employer-friendly provisions of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Not so.  A little-publicized provision of the new Act establishes a tax credit for employers who provide paid family and/or medical leave to employees within certain parameters.  Your guess is as good as mine as to why this provision has flown under the radar.  But not under the Matrix Radar!

The tax code provision is based on a bill previously introduced into the House and Senate as the Strong Families Act, which has received strong criticism from pro-family groups.  Google it and you can find websites criticizing and supporting the Strong Families Act.  Politics aside, let’s take a look at what is now the law.  (But please remember, we at Matrix are not tax advisors – consult your own attorneys or tax advisors for specific details!) 

You can review the specific provisions of the law at the link above – the “Employer Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave” starts at page 221 of the bill (page 223 of the PDF). 

Summary.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) provides employers with a partial tax credit for wage benefits paid to employees during leave taken for reasons covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  But note this:  The credit is in effect only for tax years 2018 and 2019, and then automatically sunsets unless Congress takes further action. 

Employee and employer coverage.  The tax credit coverage is not limited to employees and employers covered by the FMLA.  Benefits paid to full time and part time employees are covered by the tax credit.  However, to qualify for the tax credit, payments must be to employees who:

  • Have been employed by the employer for at least 1 year
    • The Act does not specify whether that has to be 12 consecutive months of employment
      or whether, like FMLA eligibility, the employee only needs to have worked an aggregate
      total of 1 year
  • Make no more than $72,000 per year

Employers may voluntarily provide paid family leave to employees who are not eligible for FMLA leave (called “added employees” in the Act) and receive the tax credit for such payments as long as the employer has a policy that complies with the Act.  So, for example, an employer could provide paid leave benefits to an employee who has not worked 1250 hours in the past 12 months, or who has already exhausted their FMLA entitlement, and still get the tax credit.  “Added employers” with fewer than 50 employees or those with small worksites not covered by the FMLA can also make paid leave benefits available to employees and use the tax credit. 

Policy requirements include a minimum of 2 weeks of paid leave benefit, a provision against interference with the employee’s policy rights to paid leave, and a provision against termination of an employee for complaining about a violation of the policy.

Leave reasons.  Leave benefits must be paid for one or more of the leave reasons available under the FMLA – the employee’s own serious health condition, a family member’s serious health condition, birth or placement of and bonding with a new child, military exigencies, and caring for a seriously ill or injured servicemember.  An employer’s policy does not need to cover all of the FMLA leave reasons to qualify for the tax credit.  For example, an employer may provide paid leave only for bonding with a new child and still qualify for the tax credit if all other conditions are met. 

Amount of leave.  The employer’s policy must provide at least 2 weeks of paid leave.  The maximum amount of paid leave that qualifies for the tax credit is limited to 12 weeks per employee in a 12-month period (the same as FMLA leave rights).

Percentage of pay provided.  The employer must provide a paid leave benefit of at least 50% of the employee’s wages (as defined in the tax code – I’m not going there!).

Amount of tax credit.  An employer providing paid family and/or medical leave benefits can receive a tax credit ranging from 12.5% to 25% of the amount paid to the employee.  The credit starts at 12.5% of benefits paid at the 50% level and caps at a 25% credit for benefits paid at full wage replacement.  For every percentage point over 50% of wages that the employer pays in benefits, the tax credit increases by one-quarter of a percent.  Examples:

Percentage of Paid Leave Benefit Percentage Points above 50% Multiplied by 0.25% Employer’s tax credit percentage
50% 0 0 x 0.25% = 0 12.5%
70% 20 20 x 0.25% = 5% Base 12.5% + 5% = 17.5% tax credit
90% 40 40 x 0.25% = 10% Base 12.5% + 10% = 22.5% tax credit
100% 50 50 x 0.25% = 12.5% Base 12.5% +12.5% = 25% tax credit

 

Applicable tax years.  The paid family leave tax credit is available only in tax years 2018 and 2019, unless extended by Congress.  Otherwise, it expires automatically on December 31, 2019.

Relationship to state/local paid family leave.  The Act provides that any leave which is paid or required by a state or local government is not taken into account in determining the amount of the tax credit.  Thus, the credit applies only to benefits paid voluntarily, not required by state or local law. 

PINGS FOR EMPLOYERS

  • Consult your tax advisor. As with all things tax-related, you should consult with your tax advisor
    to determine whether your existing plan is covered by the new paid leave tax credit.
  • Consult your financial advisor. If you don’t have a paid leave plan for your employees, consult
    with your financial (and tax) advisor to determine whether the incentive provided by the tax credit
    is enough to justify offering a paid leave benefit to your employees.
  • Consider benefits beyond monetary. In this day of strong competition for good employees,
    remember that a superior benefits package can be a lure.  But, with the tax credit scheduled to
    last only two years, also consider whether your company can continue the benefit if the tax
    credit expires on December 31, 2019.  Taking away the benefit might not be a good employee
    relations move at that time.

MATRIX CAN HELP!  At Matrix we offer a full suite of leave of absence and disability management tools.  This includes management of employer-specific leave plans, as well as FMLA, state leave laws, leave (and more) as an ADA accommodation, and disability plans.  To learn more, ping us at ping@matrixcos.com.