United States: Upcoming Changes in Labor Law
Several States across the United States are bringing about significant changes in their respective labor law. Read on as we cover these changes in detail –
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act were recently amended in order to expand employees’ leave rights. The amendment was signed into law in September 2022 by Gov. Gavin Newsom bringing about two new pieces of legislation. The amendments require covered employers to provide employees with protected bereavement leave (AB 1949), and also add “designated person” (AB 1041) to the list of persons an employee is allowed to take time off to care for under both CFRA and Paid Sick Leave laws.
New Bereavement Leave
Currently, California does not have a bereavement leave provision in the law.
California employers with 5 or more employees will be required beginning January 1, 2023, to provide up to 5 days of protected bereavement leave to employees for the death of a family member, including a domestic partner or extended family member.
Eligibility and Requirement – An employee is eligible for bereavement leave once they have been employed for at least 30 days prior to the commencement of leave.
A qualifying family member includes a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. The 5 days’ leave can be taken consecutively or separately within 3 months of the family member’s date of death.
Documentation – The employer may request the employee to provide documentation of the death of the family member including a death certificate, published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or governmental agency within 30 days from the first day of the leave.
Adding “Designated Person” to CFRA and Paid Sick Leave Law
Currently, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. An eligible employee may take family and medical leave for their child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or state-registered domestic partner including adoptive, foster, stepparent, and stepchild relationships, guardian and legal ward relationships, and the child of an employee’s domestic partner.
Effective January 1, 2023, employees would be allowed to take time off to care for a “designated person” under the existing family rights law and paid sick leave law. In accordance with the amendment, an eligible employee will also be able to use leave to take care of a “designated person.” A designated person is defined as “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” Employees are authorized to limit an employee to one “designated person” per 12-month period.
The amendment also expands employees to take time off to take care of a “designated person” to the list of family members under Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, 2014. Paid sick leave at the rate of 1 hour per every 30 hours worked, paid at the regular wage rate shall also be available to the employee’s designated person in accordance with the amendment.
Amendment to Bereavement Leave
Effective January 1, 2023, Illinois shall amend the scope of the Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA), and shall rename it to Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA). The amendment to the act constitutes two changes :
- Expanding the definition of family leave.
- Inclusion of fertility-related loss.
Currently, bereavement leave is restricted to child loss under the CBLA.
In light of the amendment, the scope of “covered family members” under FBLA shall include “an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent,” are now eligible for unpaid bereavement leave.
Employees will be eligible to take FBLA leave if they are eligible employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires at least 12 months of employment and at least 1,250 hours worked within the previous 12-month period. Eligible employees will be entitled to a maximum of 2 weeks (i.e 10 work days) of unpaid bereavement leave to:
- attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of the covered family member;
- make arrangements necessitated by the death of the covered family member;
- grieve the death of the covered family member; or
- be absent from work due to a miscarriage; an unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure (e.g., artificial insemination or embryo transfer); a failed adoption match or adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party; a failed surrogacy agreement; a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility; or a stillbirth.
Employers may request appropriate documentation to support the validity of a leave request. The employee may not be asked to specify the event that prompted the leave if it was a pregnancy- or adoption-related event, respectively.
Additional Meal Breaks For Longer Shifts
Currently, Illinois meal break laws state that every employer shall permit its employees who are to work for 7.5 continuous hours or longer, at least 20 minutes for a meal period beginning no later than 5 hours after the start of the work period. A violation of the meal break law is punishable by a fine of not less than $25 and up to $100 for each offense.
In addition to the above, effective January 1, 2023, an employee who works in excess of 7.5 continuous hours shall be entitled to an additional 20-minute meal period for every additional 4.5 continuous hours worked. A meal period shall not include reasonable time spent using the restroom facilities.
This amendment shall not apply to employees for whom meal periods are established through the collective bargaining agreement, or employees who monitor individuals with developmental disabilities or mental illness, however, such employees shall be allowed to eat a meal during the 8-hour work period while continuing to monitor those individuals. This amendment shall also not apply to employees who work in emergency services, even though such personnel shall be permitted to eat while on call.
Penalty – Each day that an employee is found to not have been provided a meal break as required by law shall constitute a separate offense, and be given a penalty fine of $250 to $500 depending on the number of employees employed by the employer, from January 1, 2023.
One Day Rest in Seven Act
Currently, employers are required to provide most employees with at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every “calendar week,” which is defined as Sunday from 12:01 a.m. to 12 am on Saturday.
As per the amendment, effective January 1, 2023, every employer shall allow every employee at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every consecutive 7-day period in addition to the regular period of rest allowed at the close of each working day. The amendment basically deleted “calendar week” and stated that beginning next year, employers must provide one day of rest in seven.
This amendment does not apply to part-time employees, employees working in emergency services, agricultural workers, coal miners, watchmen or security personnel, employees working in towing vessels in water bodies, etc.
Penalty – Each week that an employee is found to not have been allowed 24 consecutive hours of rest as required by law shall be considered a separate offense and be given a penalty fine of $250 to $500 depending on the number of employees employed by the employer, from January 1, 2023.
Paid Family & Medical Leave
The Oregon Employment Department (OED) published the rules governing Oregon’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) program. Beginning from January 1, 2023, the PFMLI program will be funded by employer and employee contributions in the form of payroll deductions and employees will be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off for family or medical leave or to address a domestic violence situation from September 3, 2023.
The PFMLI program covers any employer that employs one or more employees in Oregon, but only employers with 25 or more employees will be required to pay into the fund via payroll taxes.
Employers will pay 40% of the contribution, and employees will pay 60%.
The OED considers all of the company’s employees, not only those who work in Oregon when calculating employer size. To be eligible for benefits, an employee should be employed in Oregon, must have earned at least $1000 in annual wages, and should have contributed to the insurance fund. The employee must submit an application for attaining the benefit.
Employees who have limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or lactation are eligible for an additional 2 weeks of leave. Employees are permitted to combine the leave benefit with federal unpaid leave within the limit of 16 weeks of leave in a year in total (18 weeks for women with pregnancy complications).
Beginning September 3, 2023, employees can apply for PFMLI benefits up to 30 calendar days before or after the start of the leave.
Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan (NH PFML)
The New Hampshire Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan (NH PFML) also known as the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan will be effective from January 1, 2023. The State will be providing voluntary opt-in paid family leave benefits to both public and private employees. Employers with more than 50 employees shall be eligible to opt for the insurance plan.
The leave shall provide covered employees with up to 60% of the average weekly wages for a maximum of 6 weeks per year, with no minimum duration required, plus a 7 calendar day period between the beginning of an injury or illness and receiving benefit payments from an insurer.
Employees may take continuous or intermittent leave with a minimum of 4-hour increments. The covered events include the birth or adoption of a child, care of a newly adopted child or foster child for the first year, care for an employee’s family member with serious health issues, military exigency, and an employee’s own serious health condition not caused due to employment.
The enrollment period for employers begins on December 1, 2022, and will remain open. For individual plans, the enrollment period begins on January 1, 2023, and will remain open through March 2, 2023.
Employers should begin reviewing policies with respect to the above-mentioned provisions and take action to ensure compliance with the new changes in the law.