Paid Family Leave Programs: 6 Things Employers Must Know

6 Things About Paid Family Leave Programs that Employers Must Know

Partial wage replacements are now provided to employees taking leaves due to medical or family reasons - this has been a growing practice in many jurisdictions across the country.

Currently, in Chicago, Illinois, employees can rely on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which provides job protection to employees taking unpaid leave due to medical or family reasons.

Anyhow, jurisdictions requiring the practice of paid family leaves (PFL) typically allow employees to fund such programs through payroll deductions.

Now, here are 6 things about paid family leave laws that employers need to know:

1.) States that Approved PFL Laws

2.) Absences Covered by Paid Family Leave Laws

3.) Benefits of Wage Replacement

4.) Maximum Duration an Employee Can Take PFL

5.) Job Protection Expressed in Paid Family Leave Laws

6.) Providing Notice to Employees


States that Approved Paid Family Leave Laws

Family Leave Laws

Currently, these are the jurisdictions that enacted paid family leave laws:

(alt text suggestion: graph showing jurisdictions with paid family leave laws )

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*If you are an employer in San Francisco with 20 or more employees, you must provide the state’s benefits whenever a qualified employee takes a leave to take care of a new child.

**If you are a private employer in Massachusetts, you are required to give paid family leave to qualified employees effective January 1, 2021.


Absences Covered by Paid Family Leave Laws

The eligibility to get wage replacement benefits differ under various legislations. However, the benefits normally allow employees to take leave when:

  • An employee needs to bond with a newborn or a new foster or adopted child.
  • An employee needs to care for a family member with severe health or medical condition.

The jurisdictions in Washington and District of Columbia cover employees who need to take a leave due to their own health or medical condition.

Also, Washington and New York jurisdictions allow paid family leave for employees who have family members such as a domestic partner, or a spouse, a parent, or a child on active duty or notified for an upcoming active duty.

Employees are also allowed to take unpaid and job-protected leaves by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These reasons for absences may also be similar to and covered by paid family leave laws.


Benefits of Wage Replacement

Partial wage replacement benefits are provided to an employee who took an absence from work with a qualified reason covered by paid family leave laws.

Take note that besides from San Francisco, Washington state, and DC, PFL programs are entirely funded by employees through their payroll deductions.

The premiums of Washington state are also funded by employees through deductions from their payroll effective january 1, 2019.

Also, employers who have more than 50 employees are required to contribute a total of 37% to the fund whilst employees are required to contribute for the remaining 63%.

On the other hand, employers who have less than 50 employees are not mandated to pay their portion of the premium. However, those small scale employers who choose to contribute to the premium are entitled for state grants.

Now, employers in DC are permitted to fund the program through employees’ wages tax.

In San Francisco, employers are required to allot full wage replacement benefits to employees but only to those who will take a leave to bond with a newly placed child or with a newborn.

Also, San Francisco jurisdiction requires employers to comply with the state benefit by paying the employees’ normal pay remaining portions.


Maximum Duration an Employee Can Take Paid Family Leave

This table shows the maximum benefits duration of each jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction Maximum Benefits Duration
Washington 12 weeks of family leave (this includes qualified exigencies)


12 weeks of medical leave for severe health condition
(can be extended to 14 weeks if the medical condition is connected to pregnancy)

16 weeks if combined family and medical reasons for absence
(can be extended to 18 weeks if the medical condition is connected to pregnancy)
San Francisco or California 6 weeks in a period of 12 months
District of Columbia 8 weeks to bond with a new child


6 weeks if a family member needs care or company for medical reasons


2 weeks if an employee’s health condition needs medical care
(however, PFL is restricted to 8 weeks of work benefits in a 52
weeks of work timeframe, despite the number of eligible situations)
Massachusetts 12 weeks in a 12-month benefit period

26 weeks if a family member who belongs to the armed forces needs care
Rhode Island 4 weeks in a 12-month benefit period
New Jersey 6 weeks in a period of 12 months
New York In 2018, employees were granted of up to 8 weeks


In 2019, employees are granted of up to 10 weeks

In 2021,employees will be granted of up to 12 weeks

Job Protection Expressed in Paid Family Leave Laws

Job protection are expressed in PFL laws. For instance, in Rhode Island, New York, and Washington - employers are required to reinstate employees, who have returned from paid family leave, to their job position before they took the leave.

In case the position is not available anymore, an employer must provide an equivalent or comparable job position.

However, in other states, the paid family leave programs may not provide job protection entitlement but mere financial benefit.

Although, even in states that do not express provisions on job protection for paid family leave, employers may be required to cover employees - demanded by another local, federal, or state law.

For instance, in California, employees do not have job protection under the PFL law but their absence may be covered by the paid sick leave law, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or the California Family Rights Act.


Providing Notice to Employees About PFL Laws

If your company is subjected to a paid family leave law, generally, you are required to give notice to your employees - informing them about their rights to PFL and/or have the notice posted in the company premises.


To Wrap it Up:

The paid family leave trend is expected to continue. So, if you are an employer and if your employees are subject to the jurisdictions mentioned above, it is best to make sure that you understand your obligations and rights under the legislation.


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