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New Updates for Absence Management: FMLA, NY PFL, CA PFL

By Megan G. Holstein, Esq., SVP Absence and Claims Product

On the heels of last week’s two new FMLA opinion letters , and just as the US headed into the long  Labor Day holiday weekend, we had another update to several absence regulations.

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) along with the states of New York and California just announced some long-awaited leave of absence and paid family leave information. The updates include:

  • New York Paid Family Leave (NY PFL) premium and benefit increases
  • FMLA certification form updates
  • possible new leave reason under both NY PFL and California Paid Family Leave (CA PFL).

New York PFL – 2019 employee contribution, benefit, and entitlement increase

The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued a decision August 31st:

  • By way of background, the DFS must set the NY PFL premium rate by September 1st for the policy period that begins January 1st of the next year. This premium is the amount an employer is authorized to collect from each of its employees to fund NY PFL Benefits.
  • The NY PFL law increases benefits and leave entitlement in 2019 to 55% of the employee’s average weekly wage, up to 55% of the statewide average weekly wage, for up to 10 weeks of leave.
  • However, the NY PFL law authorizes the DFS to delay these increases by one or more calendar years. The DFS has chosen to allow the increases to occur for 2019 rather than delay them.
  • The premium rate for NY PFL coverage beginning January 1, 2019 reflects the increase in benefits for 2019, determined as 0.153% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period up to and not to exceed an annual maximum employee contribution of $107. 97.
  • If an employee’s contributions reach the annual maximum before the end of 2019, an employer cannot withhold additional contributions from the employee’s pay. The decision provides more information.
  • Learn more about New York Paid Family Leave

Bereavement leave

  • In June, the New York State Legislature passed an amendment to the NY PFL law adding bereavement leave as a qualifying reason for leave. As of Friday, August 31, Governor Cuomo had not signed this bill, but he has indicated that he will do so. I will continue to monitor the bill’s status and let you know when this bill is signed into law.
  • Once Governor Cuomo signs the bill, bereavement leave will be a qualifying NY PFL leave reason as of January 1, 2020. 
  • Once this amendment is signed into law, FINEOS will add the bereavement leave reason to the FINEOS Absence solution by January 1, 2020.

Federal FMLA

  • Last week the DOL announced that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) certification forms and notices are now valid through August  31, 2021. Previously the forms had expired and we were waiting on the DOL to issue new forms.
  • The DOL didn’t make any substantive changes to the forms other than to list the new expiration date.

California PFL

  • Another update last week included the passage of a bill by the California State Legislature to add family military exigency as a qualified leave reason, which would enable an employee to seek California Paid Family Leave benefits in certain circumstances.

The bill awaits the signature of Governor Brown of California. If signed, the leave reason becomes effective January 1, 2021. In the event that military exigency leave reason is signed into law,  FINEOS Absence product will include this in its CA PFL plan by January 1, 2021.

The announcements over the last two weeks leave no doubt that absence management compliance is a complex and constantly changing environment. If you are seeking an effective and comprehensive approach to managing your leave of absence requirements, then consider FINEOS Absence 

As a thorough and wide ranging solution for policy, disability, paid and unpaid leave of absence, and workplace accommodations, FINEOS Absence can help keep you compliant in this complex regulatory arena. 

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