United States: Upcoming Changes in Leave Laws
Several States across the United States are bringing about significant changes in their leave laws. Read on as we cover these changes in detail.
New Leave: Virginia Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Leave
Effective Date: July 1, 2023
Introduction: Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin recently signed into law a groundbreaking measure aimed at promoting organ donation within the state. Effective July 1, 2023, the new legislation mandates that employers with a workforce of at least 50 employees must provide unpaid leave to organ donors, including bone marrow donors.
Entitlement: Under the provisions outlined in Va. Code § 40.1-33.8, eligible employees in Virginia shall have the right to take unpaid leave for organ and bone marrow donation. To qualify, employees must have been employed by their current employer for a minimum of 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours within the preceding 12 months.
Leave Duration: Employees who meet the eligibility criteria shall be entitled to a maximum of 60 working days of unpaid leave within any 12-month period for serving as organ donors.
Furthermore, employees who chose to donate their bone marrow shall be entitled to up to 30 working days of unpaid leave within any 12-month period.
It’s important to note that organ donor leave cannot be taken concurrently with leave granted under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Verification Process: The eligible employee is required to provide written physician verification to the employer that –
- the eligible employee is an organ donor or a bone marrow donor and
- there is a medical necessity for the donation of the organ or bone marrow.
New Leave Amendment: Voting Leave for Georgia Employees
Effective Date: July 1, 2023
Introduction: A new amendment under GA SB 129 will come into effect on July 1, 2023, that shall bring important changes to the provision of voting leave laws.
Currently, employees in Georgia are entitled to take up to 2 hours of leave to vote on the day of an election with certain conditions. The law also states that the time off for voting is only available if an employee’s work hours commenced at least 2 hours after the opening of the polls or ended at least 2 hours prior to the closing of the polls.
In light of the upcoming amendment, effective July 1, 2023, employees shall be entitled to take 2 hours off on election day or on one of the days designated for in-person early voting. The amendment shall remove the limitation related to the work shift’s proximity to polling hours. Regardless of whether the polls are open 2 hours before or after an employee’s work shift, they will be able to take two hours off to exercise their voting rights to vote on the day of a primary or election, with certain conditions.
Reasonable Notice to the Employer: If an employee wants to take time off from work to vote, the employee must first give reasonable notice to the employer of the employee’s need for voting leave.
Punishment for Violation: Violating the voting leave provisions is considered a misdemeanor offense in Georgia. Depending on the judge’s discretion, employers found guilty of such violations may face penalties.
New Leave: Earned Sick and Safe Time
Effective Date: July 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024
Introduction: SF 3035 (Omnibus jobs) bill will entitle covered Minnesota employees to earned sick and safe leave, expand parental leave, ban non-compete agreements and mandatory employer-sponsored meetings, and increase protections for pregnancy and lactation.
On Tuesday, May 16, 2023, the Minnesota legislature passed a statewide paid sick and safe time mandate, known as Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST), which will take effect on January 1, 2024.
It is important to note that Minnesota’s statewide ESST policy does not supersede existing local paid sick and safe leave mandates in Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. These local ordinances continue to provide additional benefits to eligible employees in these respective areas.
Employee Eligibility: Employees who have worked a minimum of 80 hours in a year for an employer shall be eligible for this leave.
Duration: An employee shall earn 1 hour of sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked and shall be eligible to avail a maximum of 48 hours of leave each year unless the employer agrees to a higher amount.
Balance Notice: At the end of each pay period, employers must provide each employee an earning statement, either in writing or by electronic means, that includes, the total number of ESST hours accrued and available for use, and the total number of ESST hours used during the pay period.
Recordkeeping: Employers must retain records documenting, among other information, hours worked by employees and hours of ESST taken by employees. It appears that such records will need to be retained for at least 3 years in addition to the current calendar year.
Protections for Nursing Mothers and Pregnancy Accommodations
Currently, employers are required to provide reasonable breaks for expressing milk within the first 12 months following childbirth. This law covers employers with 15 or more employees.
Effective July 1, 2023, the following changes were made to lactation accommodation requirements for nursing mothers in the workplace. The new legislation shall remove this time restriction, ensuring that nursing mothers have the right to reasonable breaks for expressing milk regardless of the duration, since childbirth. Furthermore, employers will also be prohibited from denying these breaks and will be required to provide a clean, private, and secure lactation space conveniently located near the employee’s work area.
The Omnibus Jobs Bill also includes changes to Minnesota’s pregnancy accommodation provisions, including a need to provide more frequent or longer breaks for restrooms, food, and water, temporary leave of absence, and modification of work schedules, etc. Additionally, the bill shall expand the law to cover employers with one or more employees.
Broadening Parental Leave
Currently, employers with 21 or more employees working in at least one site must provide eligible employees with parenting leave in certain circumstances. To be eligible for parenting leave an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (except employees taking school activities leave); and an average number of hours per week equal to one-half the hours required of a full-time equivalent position (half time) for 12 months. An eligible employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
In accordance with the bill, the eligibility requirement has been amended and thus the leave shall be available for employers with one or more employees. The bill shall also remove limitations that previously existed limiting benefits to employees with a minimum length of service and hours worked.
Effectively from July 1, 2023, this means that all Minnesota employers will be required to provide 12 weeks of parental leave to all employees immediately upon the commencement of employment.
New Leave: Voluntary Paid Family And Medical Leave Program
Effective Date: July 1, 2023
Introduction: Vermont Family and Medical Leave Insurance Plan (VT-FMLI), is a voluntary paid family and medical leave program that will give all working Vermonters access to affordable paid family and medical leave insurance by 2025.
The program will be rolled out in three phases. Phase I will begin for Vermont state employees on July 1, 2023. In Phase II, beginning on July 1, 2024, the program will be expanded to include other private and non-state public employers with two or more employees on a voluntary basis. Beginning on July 1, 2025, employees for employers that do not offer VT-FMLI, self-employed individuals, and employers with one employee, will be able to purchase coverage through the program through an individual purchasing pool.
Coverage: Under the first phase of the plan, Vermont state employees will be able to receive insurance coverage to provide 60 % wage replacement for 6 weeks for qualifying events beginning in July 2023. According to the announcement, qualified events include:
- The birth of a child and care of a newborn child up to one year after birth;
- The adoption of a child or foster care placement, and care for the newly placed child for up to one year after placement;
- Caring for an employee’s spouse, child, stepchild, foster child, [or] ward who lives with the employee, or parent or parent of the employee’s spouse who has a serious health condition;
- A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential job functions of their job; or
- Any qualifying exigency arising [from] the employee’s spouse, child, or parent [who] is a military member on covered active duty.
New Leave: Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave (OR PFML)
Effective Date: The family and medical leave contributions began on January 1, 2023, and employees shall become eligible to apply for leave benefits from September 3, 2023.
Eligibility. Employees are eligible to receive paid leave benefits if they have earned $1,000 in wages during the base year or alternate base year.
Duration: Employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefit per year in any combination of family, medical, and safe leave. The amount of available OR PFML benefits for medical leave shall increase to 14 weeks per benefit year if the employee experiences a serious health condition related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, including but not limited to lactation.
Employer Coverage: If an employer has 25 or more employees, then the employer is required to contribute to Oregon PFML funding. Employers with less than 25 employees are not required to contribute to funding the state program, but employers must still collect and submit employee contributions.
Reasonable Notice to Employer: An employer may require an eligible employee to give the employer written notice including an explanation for the reason the leave is requested at least 30 days before starting a period of family leave, medical leave, or safe leave.
If the leave is not foreseeable, the employee will be required to give oral notice to the employer within 24 hours of the commencement of the leave and must provide written notice within 3 days after the commencement of the leave.
Senate Bill (SB) No. 616, currently awaiting approval in the California Senate, aims to enhance the extent of paid sick days that employers in California shall be obligated to provide for their employees.
Currently, California employees who meet the eligibility criteria are entitled to a minimum of 24 hours equivalent to 3 days of paid sick leave annually.
SB 616 seeks to elevate this entitlement to 56 hours, or 7 days. The bill is presently under review in the state Senate. If it secures approval in this chamber, it will progress to the state Assembly and subsequently to the governor’s desk. The governor holds the authority to either sign bills into law or veto them and must reach a decision by October 14, 2023. If enacted, the law would become effective on January 1, 2024.
Paid Leave for All Workers Act (the Act), effective from January 1, 2024, will entitle all eligible employees to earn or accrue up to 40 hours of paid leave per year. Employees can use their leaves for mental or physical illness, injury, or other health condition, or to care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or other health condition, or absence due to domestic abuse, or sexual assault.
Colorado Family and Medical Leave Insurance program (CO FAMLI) leave beginning January 1, 2024, will entitle eligible employees to access 12 weeks of paid leave. Eligible employees can take paid leave for the following reasons: bonding after birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, qualifying military exigency, safe leave due to domestic violence, stalking, sexual abuse or assault, or for employee’s own serious health condition.
Employees with serious health conditions due to pregnancy complications or childbirth have access to an additional four weeks of paid leave (a total of 16 weeks).
Employers Takeaway – Employers should begin reviewing policies with respect to their current leave entitlements as per employment contracts and take action to ensure compliance with the new changes in the leave laws.