As of 2020, California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, DC, mandate paid leave for an employee’s own health condition. Except for Hawaii, these jurisdictions also require paid family leave for bonding with a new child, caring for a seriously ill or injured family member, and certain other purposes. Each jurisdiction differs from others in some way.
Common elements in nearly all of these programs include these features:
- State/district agency (except in Hawaii) oversees and/or administers the program.
- Funding comes at least partially from employee contributions (except in Washington, DC).
- Program provides partial wage replacement for qualified leave.
- Qualifying reasons for leave are similar to those under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Leave runs concurrently with FMLA (when both apply).
- Employee eligibility depends on work location (not residence).
- Employees must provide documentation of need for leave.
- Leave duration is limited within a 12-month period.
- Contributions and maximum benefit amounts are updated annually.
Other common elements for some programs include:
- Job protections
- Intermittent leave available
- Continuation of health benefits required
- Employer contributions required
- Employer voluntary/private plan option available
This is the first year that benefits are available through the Washington state and Washington, DC, programs. Massachusetts plans to begin benefits in 2021; Connecticut contributions begin in 2021, and benefits will follow in 2022; and Oregon contributions start in 2022, with benefits first available in 2023. Other states, including Colorado, are likely to enact similar laws in 2020.
Highlights of 2020 state paid family and disability/medical leave rates
Each jurisdiction has posted its 2020 contribution rates, taxable wage base, and maximum weekly benefit amounts. New York’s disability benefits are set by the law, and don’t change. Puerto Rico also has a mandated disability benefit program, not included here. Rates are set by statute and remain unchanged from year to year. Here are highlights of the 2020 updates:
The State Disability Insurance (SDI) taxable wage base is $122,909 in 2020, an increase from $118,371 in 2019. The employee contribution rate, which includes both SDI and Paid Family Leave (PFL), will remain at 1% in 2020 — up to the taxable wage base. The 2020 maximum weekly benefit of $1,300 reflects an increase from the 2019 maximum of $1,252. A legislative change will expand PFL from six to eight weeks for claims beginning on or after July 1.
The 2020 Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) weekly wage base is $1,119.44, up from $1,088.08 in 2019. Hawaii law permits employee contributions of up 0.5% of wages (up to the weekly wage base) with a maximum weekly contribution of $5.60 in 2020. The 2020 maximum weekly benefit is $650, an increase from $632 in 2019. Hawaii doesn’t currently have a paid family leave mandate or program.
Significant legislative changes apply to New Jersey’s program beginning in 2020. The 2020 taxable wage base is $134,900, up from $34,400 in 2019, for both TDI and Family Leave Insurance (FLI). The employee contribution rate for TDI is 0.26% in 2020, an increase from the 2019 rate of 0.17%. The 2020 FLI contribution rate is 0.16%, an increase from the 2019 rate of 0.08%. The 2020 maximum weekly benefit for TDI or FLI beginning before July 1 is $667, up from $650 in 2019. For claims beginning on or after July 1, the maximum weekly benefit rises to $881 as a result of the benefit calculation increase from 2/3 of weekly wages to 85%.
The disability benefits law (DBL) permits employee contributions equal to 0.5% of wages up to a maximum of $0.60 per week. The maximum weekly benefit for a non-work related disability is $170. These statutory amounts have remained unchanged since 1989 and are distinct from the state’s annually adjusted PFL benefit.
The employee contribution rate for PFL in 2020 is 0.27% of the employee’s weekly wage, up from a 2019 rate of 0.153%. Contributions are limited to the taxable wage base of $72,860.84 in 2020 — up from
$70,569.72 in 2019 — for a maximum annual contribution of $196.72. The weekly PFL benefit is 60% of an employee’s average weekly wage (up from 55% in 2019), to a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70 (for up to 10 weeks), an increase from $746.41 in 2019.
The 2020 taxable wage base is $72,300, up from $71,000 in 2019, for combined TDI and Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) programs. The 2020 employee contribution rate rises to 1.3% of employee wages, up from a rate of 1.1% in 2019. Rhode Island updates its weekly benefit amount each July. The maximum weekly benefit is $867 for benefit years beginning on or after July 1, 2019 until a new rate is announced in July 1, 2020.
In Washington’s first year offering paid leave benefits, the 2020 employee contribution rate remains at 0.2533% of wages up to a taxable wage base of $137,700. Employer contributions of 0.14668% of wages apply to employers with at least 50 employees in the state. The maximum weekly benefit is $1,000.
The employer contribution rate is unchanged from the program’s start — 0.62% of an employee’s Washington, DC, wages. Due to the city’s home rule structure, employees can’t be charged an employment tax to help cover the cost of program. The district doesn’t limit contributions to a taxable wage base. The maximum weekly benefit for leave beginning on or after July 1, 2020 (when leave benefits are first available) is $1,000.