Stay Up to Date on PFL With This 2020 Rundown

February 19, 2020
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What’s going on with paid leave laws in 2020? We expect legislation to keep moving forward across the country, with activity in several states and at the federal level. Stay on top of the action with our quick rundown of what to expect in 2020.

The Big Picture

Twenty-nine states introduced legislation in 2019 and three states enacted Paid Family and Medical Leave laws. We anticipate at least 10 states will carry over 2019 legislation or propose new laws for consideration in 2020. And, if the 2020 election creates high turnover in the makeup of the legislative chambers, we could see even more activity in 2021.

Major Changes to Federal Worker Benefits

Federal workers have new access to parental leave that:

  • Turns 12 weeks of annual unpaid parental leave under the FMLA into paid time off
  • Applies to births, adoptions and foster placements on or after Oct. 1, 2020
  • Does not apply to federal employees who want paid time off to care for a sick family member or recover from their own serious medical condition
  • Was passed by the U.S. House in July and the Senate in December, before being signed by the president

Strong Chance of More Federal Action

Will PFL be a priority in 2020, given the uncertain political climate? Business and industry experts want action. But there’s no guarantee elected officials will move on the issue.

The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from America’s top companies, is urging Congress and the president to act on federal PFML legislation. They’re citing the challenges caused by the expanding patchwork of competing, inconsistent state plans. They’re also talking about the need to offer leave benefits to help employees.

On the legislative front, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s reinvigorated FAMILY Act will likely move forward in 2020. Her 2018 bill proposes 12 weeks of partial paid leave for family and personal medical needs. It calls for funding through a new 0.4% payroll tax, split between employers and employees.

The outlook isn’t as rosy for past legislation proposed by Republicans. That includes the Economic Security for New Parents Act and Workflex in the 21st Century Act, which have lost momentum.

State Legislative Activity in 2020

Tennessee

Tennessee’s PFL program for state workers became law on Jan, 7, 2020, and includes:

  • Access to 12 weeks of paid family leave starting March 1, 2020
  • Qualifying events that are consistent with FMLA
  • Benefit for state employees only — with hope of spurring private employers to provide similar benefits

Colorado

Colorado Democrats have vowed to pass PFL in 2020 with SB 188.1,2 Lawmakers in the state have proposed bills before, but these were held up — even with significant support. And some big questions need answering before this law can be signed and implemented:

People want to know how SB188 will impact business. Will small business — or any business — be eligible for exemptions? Should the state or a third-party market partner run the family leave program? What requirements should the state set for businesses that already offer leave policies above and beyond what the state might implement?

There’s also uncertainty around scope and funding. How broad should the bill’s definition of “family” be? Should the program start big all at once, or roll out small and build? And does the law take the right approach to funding?

The PFML Task Force has been meeting and will present its findings soon. The law states that a program is to be established by June 1, 2020.

Details of Colorado’s 2019 PFL bill:

  • The program would be state run.
  • Workers would get 12 weeks of paid leave to care for infants, recover from pregnancy, receive treatment for illness, leave abusive relationships or care for sick loved ones.
  • All full- and part-time workers in Colorado would have to participate.
  • Equal contributions from employers and employees would fund the plan.
  • The State Department of Labor and Employment would manage the program.

Other States: Activity on the Horizon

Missouri

A new bill (SB 565) was recently introduced for the 2020 session.

New Hampshire

HB 712 carried over from 2019 and will likely pass the House Finance Committee. The governor is expected to introduce another bill related to Paid Family Leave in 2020.

New Mexico

Lawmakers introduced HB 16 in December 2019. The proposed law would create a PFML act with a maximum of 12 weeks paid time off.

Vermont

HB 107 carried over from 2019 legislative cycle.

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Legislative Activity