State Legislatures’ Efforts to Pass Employee Paid Leave Explained

Date: May 19, 2022

State Legislatures’ Efforts to Pass Employee Paid Leave Explained

Although efforts to pass 12 weeks of federal paid and medical leave were defeated earlier this year, several states have passed paid leave policies, or expanded existing ones.   

Several states have introduced bills establishing Paid Family and Medical Leave programs. Twelve states – California, Colorado (family leave starting in 2024), Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon (family leave starting in 2023), Rhode Island, and Washington state – plus Washington, D.C. all have laws in place requiring paid family and sick leave. Four more states – Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico, and Vermont – all require sick leave only.  

“The vast majority of small business owners provide flexibility for employees to pick up kids from school, attend tee ball games, and attend to family emergencies. A one-size-fits-all government mandate is both financially and administratively burdensome. NFIB opposes these unnecessary mandates,” said Tim Goodrich, NFIB Vice President of State Government Relations. 

Delaware: On May 10, Delaware became the latest state to mandate paid family and medical leave when Gov. John Carney signed the Healthy Delaware Families Act into law. The program requires businesses to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave every year (if they have 10 or more employees), as well as six weeks of paid family caregiving leave, paid medical leave, or paid military leave every two years (if they have 25 or more employees). Employees become eligible for benefits if they have worked at least 1,250 hours over 12 months. 

All businesses with at least 10 employees must start paying into the fund in July 2022, and the benefits will go into effect in 2025. 

Maryland: In April, Maryland state legislators passed through a veto-proof supermajority the Time to Care Act of 2022 which allows Maryland workers to apply for up to 24 weeks of paid leave benefits from a state fund beginning on January 1, 2025, with employer contributions set to begin in 2023. Employees who have worked a minimum of 680 hours over 12 months will be eligible, regardless of their employer size. The benefits can be used for the care of a child, family member, or a service member. The program will be funded by payroll tax contributions with employers responsible for at least 50% of the contributions to the fund. 

Virginia: The Private Family Leave Insurance Act was signed into law by Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin in April. The proposal allows businesses the choice to purchase paid family leave insurance. These insurance plans can be sold as separate plans by an employer or be bundled with group disability income policies. Among other things, the new law would allow employers to voluntarily purchase private insurance family leave plans that provide income replacement to employees for the birth or adoption of a child, placement of a child for foster care, care of a family members with a serious health condition. A proposal with similar provisions has been introduced in Missouri and was approved by the state Senate earlier this month. 

In addition, the Minnesota state Senate earlier in May passed an insurance plan law similar to the one just passed in Virginia. 

Conversely, several states have also passed “preemption” laws which prevent their cities and counties from passing their own more stringent paid medical and family leave laws. Some preemption states have their own state-level family and sick leave policies which they do not want local jurisdictions to be able to replace.  

The states with preemption laws are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.  

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