Paid leave laws 2020: What’s new?

As of April 1, small businesses with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and family leave benefits to employees impacted by COVID-19. Learn more about these new paid leave requirements with this guide to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

In 2020, eligible employees in five states either have access to paid family and medical leave for the first time, or received updated benefits. If you run a business in any of the states listed below, you might have been impacted by the new legislation. 

Here is a list of which states implemented changes, what the changes are, and what type of businesses were impacted by the changes. 

New York 

New York employers are in the middle of a four-year phase in for the state’s Paid Family Leave benefit. As of January 1, 2020, the newest update includes required paid family leave for eligible farm laborers. 

The expansion means that farm laborers and other eligible employees will have access to a 10-week period of leave to bond with a new child (also known as parental leave), care for a family member with a serious health condition, or assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service. 

The Paid Family Leave wage replacement benefit also increases in 2020—employees taking paid time off will now receive 60% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 60% of the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,401.17. The maximum weekly benefit for 2020 is $840.70. 

The Paid Family Leave may be funded through payroll reductions of employees. The contribution for 2020 is .270% of an employee’s gross wages per pay period, with a maximum annual contribution of $196.72. 

In 2021, the amount of time eligible employees can take will rise to 12 weeks. 

California 

As of July 1, 2020, California’s state paid leave policy was increased from six weeks to eight weeks of benefits.  

The paid time off can be used to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a child within one year of the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the child. The law provides about 60-70% of wages earned 5 to 18 months before your claim start date, according to CA.gov

Washington 

Washington employees have access to paid family leave for the first time this year. The state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave law stipulates that as of January 1, employees can apply to up to 12 to 18 weeks of paid leave if they have worked a minimum of 820 hours in a year. 

The leave can be taken for the birth of a child, the care of a qualifying family member with a serious illness, or to spend time with a family member on leave from the military.

Employees who take paid leave could receive up to 90 percent of their weekly pay, or up to $1,000 a week. 

Federal employees, those employed by businesses located on tribal land, and self-employed individuals who choose not to op into the state program are not eligible for the benefits. 

Luckily for employers, they do not have to worry about managing claims or determining eligibility because employees wishing to apply for paid leave do so directly through the state. 

Nevada 

Nevada’s Mandatory Paid Leave law went into effect on January 1, 2020. The new law requires that private employers with 50 or more employees must provide .01923 hours of paid leave for each hour of work performed to all employees (including part-time staff members). 

The amount equals 40 hours of paid leave per year for employees who work 40 hours a week, and it can also be frontloaded instead of accrued. The law merely states the minimum amount of leave required, employers are welcome to provide more to their employees. 

District of Columbia 

As of July 1, 2020, all private employers must provide up to eight weeks of paid parental leave to bond with a new child, six weeks of paid family leave to care for an eligible family member with a serious health condition, and two weeks of paid medical leave to care for their own serious health condition. 

The benefits are paid for by .62 percent quarterly payroll tax on employees’ total wages. The tax is paid to the Universal Paid Leave Implementation Fund, which is administered by the District of Columbia. 

To be eligible for the paid leave, employees must spend more than 50% of their working time in the District of Columbia. 

New Jersey

As of July 1, 2020, the amount of paid leave employees can take doubled, going from 6 consecutive weeks during any 12-month period to 12 consecutive weeks. 

During that time, employees can receive 85% of their weekly wage, with the maximum possible benefit increasing to 70% of the statewide average weekly wage. The new legislation also increases the intermittent leave workers can take from 42 days to 56 days. 

The leave is funded through a tax taken out of employee paychecks, based on the first $131,000 in wages.

Remember this is not official legal advice. If you have any concerns about paid leave laws, it’s best to consult an employment lawyer. 

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