Support Working Families with Paid Family Leave

Paid family leave provides workers with paid time off to care for a new baby or a seriously ill relative. This common-sense program generates significant societal savings, has positive impacts for businesses by lowering turnover, helps make ill people healthier by increasing the chance that they can receive care from a loved one, and improves outcomes for new families. Despite these proven benefits, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act covers only 60% of workers and provides for only unpaid leave. States can lead the way by enacting statewide paid family leave programs funded through a small employee payroll contribution and administered efficiently by a state agency already working with in-state employers....

Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this help?
This legislation helps the large number of working families who do not have access to any paid family leave program by making sure they can take paid time off to care for newborn children or sick relatives.
How does this work?
Paid family leave is an insurance program—employees make a small weekly contribution, which is used to finance paid family leave for workers that need it.
Does this involve a new government bureaucracy to administer?
No. Well-designed programs should fit easily within existing administrative structures.
Will it cost the state a fortune?
No. In states where paid family leave legislation has been passed, it has been funded by small employee payroll deductions. This adds up to a huge service families want and need—that is affordable for them and the state.
  • Workers and families
  • Women’s advocates
  • Sustainable business associations (such as the American Sustainable Business Council)
  • Organized labor
  • Businesses groups that oppose workers’ comp, unemployment benefits, etc.
Model Policy
This act shall be known as the STATE Paid Family Leave Act
To ensure all workers have access to paid family leave.

(a) The legislature hereby finds:
-(1) that research confirms paid family leave results in decreased infant mortality and improved newborn and maternal health; supports positive brain, psychological, and immune development in infants, reducing the risk of costly health problems such as asthma, diabetes, acute infections, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome; and that receiving care from a family member helps adults recover from serious illnesses, reducing recovery time and costs and improving outcomes;
-(2) that research confirms that paid family leave improves employee productivity, morale, and retention and increases workforce participation by women; and confirms long-term cost savings as a result of statewide adoption of paid family leave, including through reduced reliance on other state programs; and
-(3) that it is in the interest of STATE to help ensure access to this important benefit while ensuring the impact of any new requirements are balanced to help small businesses continue to thrive.

(b) Beginning one year following the enactment of this act, covered individuals as defined below who submit an application, will have access to paid family leave benefits under the following circumstances:
-(1) to bond with a child within one year of the child’s birth or placement for foster care or adoption;
-(2) to care for a family member with a serious health condition;
-(3) to recover from one’s own serious health condition;
-(4) for certain needs of military families as specified below.

(c) Paid family leave benefits shall be payable as follows:
-(1) Following a waiting period consisting of the first seven calendar days of leave, benefits are payable when family or medical leave is required. However, no waiting period is required for leave for the birth or placement of a child. Benefits may continue during the continuance of the need for family and medical leave, subject to the maximum and minimum weekly benefits, duration, and other conditions and limitations established in this chapter. Successive periods of family leave caused by the same or related injury or sickness are deemed a single period of family and medical leave only if separated by less than four months.

-(2) The weekly benefit shall be prorated by the percentage of hours on leave compared to the number of hours provided as the typical workweek hours.

-(3) The minimum claim duration payment is for eight consecutive hours of leave.

-(4) Starting on January 1, in the second year after enactment of this act (YEAR 2), the maximum duration of paid family leave may not exceed twelve times the typical workweek hours during a period of fifty-two consecutive calendar weeks. Prior to January 1 YEAR 2, the DEPARTMENT may set a maximum between eight and twelve time times the typical workweek hours.

-(5) The entitlement to family leave benefits for the birth or placement of a child expires at the end of the twelve-month period beginning on the date of such birth or placement.The entitlement to family leave benefits for a family member’s serious health condition, or leave for qualifying exigency, expires at the end of the twelve-month period beginning on the date of which the employee filed an application for the benefits.

-(6) The weekly benefit for family and medical leave shall be sixty-seven percent of the employee’s average weekly wage (during the 12 months preceding submission of the application or the average weekly wages during the time the covered individual worked if it was less than 12
months) up to sixty-seven percent of the state average weekly wage.

-(7) The maximum weekly benefit for family and medical leave that occurs on or after January 1, YEAR 2, shall be one thousand dollars. By September 30, YEAR 2, and by each subsequent September 30th, the DEPARTMENT shall adjust the maximum weekly benefit amount to ninety percent of the state average weekly wage. The adjusted maximum weekly benefit amount takes effect on the following January 1st.

-(8) The minimum weekly benefit shall not be less than one hundred dollars per week except that if the employee’s average weekly wage at the time of family leave is less than one hundred dollars per week, the weekly benefit shall be the employee’s full wage.

(d) Administration:
-(1) Beginning 180 days following the enactment of this act, shall assess for each individual in employment with an employer and for each self-employed individual electing coverage a premium based on the amount of the individual’s wages and pursuant to a schedule released by DEPARTMENT.
–(i) The DEPARTMENT with advice from the STATE INVESTMENT BOARD OR STATE OFFICIAL RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTMENT OF STATE FUNDS shall evaluate and determine on an annual basis the premium schedule of employee contributions necessary to finance the paid family and medical leave program outlined in this act.
–(ii) An employer may deduct from the wages of each employee up to the full amount of the premium required.
–(iii) An employer may elect to pay all or any portion of the employee’s share of the premium.

-(2) Premiums shall be collected through payroll deductions and remitted to the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund established below.

-(3) In collecting employee premiums through payroll deductions, the employer shall act as the agent of the employees. Premiums shall be collected in the manner and at such intervals as provided by DEPARTMENT.

-(4) Benefits provided under this chapter shall be paid periodically and promptly, except when an employer contests a period of family or medical leave. DEPARTMENT shall develop, in rule, a process by which an employer may contest an initial application for family leave benefits.

-(5) DEPARTMENT shall establish reasonable procedures and forms for filing claims for benefits under this act and shall specify what supporting documentation is necessary to support a claim for benefits, including any documentation required from a health care provider for proof of a serious health condition.

-(6) The Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund is created in the custody of the [STATE INVESTMENT BOARD OR STATE OFFICIAL RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTMENT OF STATE FUNDS]. The Fund may be used only to advance the purposes of the family and medical leave insurance benefits program created herein. The [STATE INVESTMENT BOARD OR STATE OFFICIAL RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTMENT OF STATE FUNDS shall have full power to invest, reinvest, manage, contract, sell or exchange investments acquired with the Fund in the manner prescribed by state law.

-(7) DEPARTMENT shall conduct a public education campaign to inform workers and employers regarding the availability of family and medical leave insurance benefits. Outreach information shall be available in English, and other languages spoken by significant portions of the state’s population.

-(8) DEPARTMENT is encouraged to use state data collection and sharing technology to the extent possible and to integrate the program with existing state policies, programs, and systems.

(e) Non-diminishment and non-retaliation:
-(1) Any covered individual who exercises his or her right to family and medical leave insurance benefits under this act, shall upon the expiration of that leave, be entitled to be restored by the employer to the position held by the covered individual when the leave commenced, or to a position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment including fringe benefits and service credits that the covered individual had been entitled to at the commencement of leave.

-(2) During any leave taken pursuant to this act, the employer shall maintain any health care benefits the covered individual had prior to taking such leave for the duration of the leave as if the covered individual had continued in employment continuously from the date he or she commenced the leave until the date the family and medical leave insurance benefits terminate; provided, however, that the covered individual shall continue to pay the covered individual’s share of the cost of health benefits as required prior to the commencement of the leave.

-(3) This act does not diminish an employer’s obligation to comply with any of the following that provide more generous leave: (i) a collective bargaining agreement; (ii) an employer policy; or (iii) any other law.

-(4) An individual’s right to leave under this Act may not be diminished by a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed, or an employer policy adopted or retained, after the effective date of this Act. Any agreement by an individual to waive his or her rights under this Act is void as against public policy.

-(5) It shall be unlawful for an employer or any other person to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right protected under this act. Any employer or employer’s agent shall not take retaliatory personnel action or otherwise discriminate against a person because he or she exercised rights protected under this act. It shall be unlawful for an employer’s absence control policy to count paid family and medical leave taken under this act as an absence that may lead to or result in discipline, discharge, demotion, suspension or any other adverse action.

-(6) Leave taken with wage replacement under this act that also qualifies as leave under the federal [or state] FMLA shall run concurrently with leave taken under the federal [or state] FMLA. An employer may require that payment made pursuant to this Act be made concurrently or otherwise coordinated with payment made or leave allowed under the terms of disability or family care leave under a collective bargaining agreement or employer policy. The employer must give employees written notice of this requirement.

-(7) A covered individual shall be entitled, at the option of the covered individual, to take paid family and medical leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule in which all of the leave authorized under this Act is not taken sequentially. Family and medical leave insurance benefits for intermittent or reduced leave schedules shall be prorated.

-(8) The covered individual shall make a reasonable effort to schedule paid family and medical leave under this section so as not to unduly disrupt the operations of the employer. The covered individual shall provide the employer with prior notice of the schedule on which the covered individual will be taking the leave, to the extent practicable. This section shall not result in a reduction of the total amount of leave to which an employee is entitled beyond the amount of leave actually taken.

-(9) If the covered individual uses 10 or more days of family and medical leave insurance benefits in an application year, the covered individual shall be paid for the waiting period. The waiting period need only be served once every application year.

-(10) Employees should notify their employer of the need to take leave as soon as practicable.

(f) Covered individuals and definitions
-(1) Covered individuals includes:
–(i) any employee of any employer in the state who, during the 12 months prior to submitting an application, worked either for 26 weeks at a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week, or for 175 days at a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week; and
–(ii) a self-employed person, including a sole proprietor, partner or joint venturer, who may elect coverage under this Act for an initial period of not less than three years. The self-employed person must file a notice of election in writing with DEPARTMENT, as required by DEPARTMENT. The election becomes effective on the date of filing the notice. As a condition of election, the self-employed person must agree to supply any information concerning income that the Department deems necessary.A self-employed person who has elected coverage may withdraw from coverage within 30 days after the end of the three-year period of coverage, or at such other times as DEPARTMENT may prescribe by rule, by filing written notice with the DEPARTMENT, such withdrawal to take effect not sooner than 30 days after filing the notice; who
–(iii) meets other requirements of this act and submits an application as prescribed by DEPARTMENT.

-(2) “Family member” is
–(i) Regardless of age, a biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal ward, a child of a domestic partner, a child to whom the covered individual stands in loco parentis, or a person to whom the covered individual stood in loco parentis when the person was a minor;
–(ii) A biological, adoptive or foster parent, stepparent or legal guardian of a covered individual or a covered individual’s spouse or domestic partner or a person who stood in loco parentis when the covered individual or the covered individual’s spouse or domestic partner was a minor child;
–(iii) A person to whom the covered individual is legally married under the laws of any state, or a domestic partner of a covered individual as registered under the laws of any state or political subdivision;
–(iv) A grandparent, grandchild or sibling (whether a biological, foster, adoptive or step relationship) of the covered individual or the covered individual’s spouse or domestic partner; or
–(v) A designated person, which shall mean one additional person designated by a covered individual for whom the covered individual will provide care under this act if the designated person has a serious health condition. An employer may establish a uniform process for employees to select a “designated person” as defined in this act. Thereafter, the employer must permit the employee to make or change such a designation, as applicable, on an annual basis. If an employer does not establish such a uniform process, the employee may make such a designation when filing a claim for benefits.

-(3) Needs of military families includes for the covered individual or family member to address exigencies as outlined in 29 CFR § 825.126 (the text of which is incorporated herein at the time of passage of this act).

(g) Notice
-(1) Each employer shall provide written notice to each employee upon hiring and annually thereafter of employee rights under this act, provided that such notice has been made accessible by DEPARTMENT on its website. Such notice shall be provided in English and any language that is the first language spoken by at least 40% of employer’s workforce, provided that such notice has been made accessible by DEPARTMENT on its website.

-(2) An employer shall also provide written notice to an employee when the employee requests leave under this act, or when the employer acquires knowledge that an employee’s leave may be for a qualifying reason under this act.

-(3) DEPARTMENT may adopt regulations to establish additional requirements concerning the means by which employers shall provide such notice.

(h) Enforcement
-(1) This act shall be enforced by DEPARTMENT as provided in [law providing enforcement authority to DEPARTMENT for wage and hour laws].
-(2) DEPARTMENT shall establish a system for appeals in the case of a denial of family and medical leave insurance benefits. In establishing such system, the Director may utilize any and all procedures and appeals mechanisms established under the [STATE unemployment compensation law].
-(3) Judicial review of any decision with respect to family and medical leave insurance benefits shall be permitted in a court of competent jurisdiction after a party aggrieved thereby has exhausted all administrative remedies established by DEPARTMENT.
-(4) DEPARTMENT shall implement procedures to ensure confidentiality of all information related to any claims filed or appeals taken to the maximum extent permitted by applicable laws.

(i) Reports. Beginning 1 years after the enactment of this act, DEPARTMENT shall report to the legislature by September 1st of each year on (i) the effectiveness of the program established by this act, and any needed changes; (ii) projected and actual program participation by purpose, gender of beneficiary, premium rates, and other information useful for research purposes; (iii) fund balances and projections, and (iv) outreach efforts undertaken

(j) Severability If any provision of this Act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the Act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.