Parental Leave as a Benefit: State vs. Federal Law

father on parental leave with child

In the absence of paid parental leave provisions in federal law, a growing number of jurisdictions have begun to fill the gap. Read on for an overview of the options for new parents in these areas, and follow the Zenefits blog to find out how we can help you comply with new regulations in your state or city.

For new and prospective parents, as well as employers working to retain their workforce, navigating the landscape of parental leave laws can be a challenge. On the federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with 12 weeks of job-protected leave for a variety of reasons, including the birth, placement, or adoption of a child. However, federal law does not require this leave to be paid–seemingly leaving the decision in the hands of covered employers.

In the absence of paid parental leave provisions in federal law, however, a growing number of jurisdictions– including California, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey– have begun to fill the gap. Read on for an overview of the options for new parents in these areas, and follow the Zenefits blog to find out how we can help you comply with new regulations in your state or city.

California:

With the California Family Rights Act, and the recent passage of the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA), private, state, and municipal employers that employ 20 or more individuals must provide California employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave, within a year of the birth, placement, or adoption of a new child.

Additionally, California’s Paid Family Leave legislation allows employees to receive wage replacement benefits during leave to bond with a new child. As of January 1, 2018, employees can receive 60 or 70% wage replacement of their weekly earnings, for up to 6 weeks, within any 12 month period. PFL is administered by the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) Disability Insurance Branch.
For further information on California PFL Eligibility Requirements, check here.

NOTE: Under the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, San Francisco employers with 20 or more employees are required to supplement California PFL, by providing employees with 100% wage replacement benefits during the 6 week PFL period.

New York

New York’s  Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (“NY-PFL”) went into effect on January 1, 2018. Private employers with 1 or more employees must now provide up to 8 weeks of leave, with 50% wage replacement of the employee’s weekly wages, or the New York state average (whichever is lower). The program will be phased in from 2018-2021, with both leave duration and wages increasing annually until it hits the cap of 12 weeks leave with 67% wage replacement in 2021.

Parents may take NY-PFL to bond with a new child at any time during the first 12 months following birth, adoption, or placement. The leave is funded through employee payroll deductions, and benefits will be provided through a required rider to the employer’s existing disability benefit plan.

For further information on NY-PFL eligibility requirements click here.

New Jersey

Similar to California, New Jersey’s Family and Medical Leave Act runs concurrently with FMLA. However, New Jersey’s Family Temporary Disability Leave Law requires employers with 1 or more employees to provide up to 6 weeks of partial wage replacement (⅔ of the employee’s weekly salary, up to the state cap) to eligible employees.

For further information on NJ-PFL eligibility requirements click here.

Rhode Island:

Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance program requires employers to provide job-protected paid leave benefits to eligible employees. The leave is funded through employee payroll deductions, and workers will receive up to 4 weeks of leave with 60% wage replacement benefits, to bond with a newborn, adopted, or foster child.   

For further information on Rhode Island TCI click here.

Pending Paid Parental Leave Legislation

Jurisdictions such as Washington State and the District of Columbia have enacted paid leave policies set to go into effect in 2020.

These states will provide useful insights into the application and operation of paid family leave laws across large employee populations. While a federal paid family leave requirement remains uncertain, local requirements may soon become the norm.

Still have questions? Our team of HR Advisors is available to help you navigate the most challenging HR issues, such as state parental leave and other paid leave benefits. Check us out here and learn how to leverage our expertise to reduce risk when facing compliance challenges, difficult employee situations, employee policy changes, and more.

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