2021 state paid family and medical leave contributions and benefits

2021 state paid family and medical leave contributions and benefits

As of January 2021, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, DC (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. Although these mandates share common elements, each jurisdiction differs from others in some way.

This GRIST outlines key provisions of these laws and the 2021 benefit and contribution amounts. Download the 15-page print-friendly PDF for a chart summarizing each jurisdiction’s requirements Here are highlights from the article.

Common elements

Common elements in nearly all of these programs include:

  • Overseen and/or administered by the state/district agency (except Hawaii)
  • Funded at least partially by employees (except Washington, DC)
  • Provide partial wage replacement for qualified leave
  • Include leave for reasons similar to what the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows
  • Require leave to run concurrently with FMLA (when both apply)
  • Determine employee eligibility by work location (not residence)
  • Require employee documentation of need for leave
  • Limit leave duration within a 12-month period
  • Annually update contributions and maximum benefits

Other common elements among some programs include:

  • Job protections
  • Intermittent leave available
  • Continuation of health benefits
  • Employer contributions
  • Employer voluntary/private plan option

This is the first year that benefits are available through the Massachusetts plan. Connecticut contributions begin in 2021, and benefits will follow in 2022. Oregon contributions start in 2022, with benefits first available in 2023. Under Colorado’s recent voter-approved program, contributions will begin in 2023 with benefits available in 2024.

Highlights of 2021 state paid disability/medical and family leave rates

Each jurisdiction has posted its 2021 contribution rates, taxable wage base and maximum weekly benefit amounts. New York’s disability benefits are set by the law and don’t change annually. This GRIST omits Puerto Rico’s mandated disability benefit program, which has rates set by statute that remain unchanged from year to year. Here are highlights of the 2021 updates:

California

The State Disability Insurance (SDI) taxable wage base is $128,298 in 2021, an increase from $122,909 in 2020. The employee contribution rate, which includes both SDI and paid family leave (PFL), has increased from 1% of wages (up to the taxable wage base) in 2020 to 1.2% in 2021. The 2021 maximum weekly benefit of $1,357 reflects an increase from the 2020 maximum of $1,300.

Hawaii

The 2021 Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) weekly wage base dropped to $1,102.90 from $1,119.44 in 2020. Hawaii law permits employee contributions of up 0.5% of wages (up to the weekly wage base) with a maximum weekly contribution of $5.51 in 2021. The 2021 maximum weekly benefit is $640, a decrease from $650 in 2020. Hawaii doesn’t currently have a paid family leave mandate or program.

Massachusetts

The state’s paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits became available for the first time on Jan. 1, 2021. Weekly benefits are calculated using the employee’s and the state average weekly wage (AWW). The maximum weekly benefit amount for 2021 is $850 per week. Total contributions in 2021 remain 0.75% of an employee’s wages up to the Social Security taxable income limit — $142,800 in 2021 — and employers with at least 25 Massachusetts employees share 60% of the 0.62% contribution for medical leave.

New Jersey

The 2021 taxable wage base is $138,200, up from $134,900 in 2020, for both TDI and Family Leave Insurance (FLI). The employee contribution rate for TDI is 0.47% in 2021. The 2021 FLI contribution rate is 0.28%, for a combined employee contribution of 0.75%. The maximum weekly benefit for TDI or FLI beginning in 2021 is $903, up from $881 in the latter half of 2020.

New York

The disability benefits law (DBL) sets employee contributions equal to 0.5% of wages up to a maximum of $0.60 per week. The maximum weekly benefit for a nonwork-related disability is $170. These statutory amounts have remained unchanged since 1989 and are distinct from the state’s annually adjusted PFL benefit.

In addition to the PFL reasons permitted in prior years, a new law (Ch. 25, SB 8091) allows qualified employees to use PFL when they — or their minor, dependent child — are under an order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. To address the costs associated with this additional coverage, regulators added a COVID-19 risk adjustment to employee contributions in 2021.

The employee contribution rate for PFL coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2021 is 0.506%, plus a 0.005% risk adjustment for the COVID-19 claims paid under of the 2020 law, for a total of 0.511% of an employee’s wages each pay period. Contributions are limited to the taxable wage base of $75,408.84 in 2021 — up from $72,860.84 in 2020 — for a maximum 2021 annual contribution of $385.34. The weekly PFL benefit is 67% of an employee’s average weekly wage (up from 60% in 2020), to a maximum weekly benefit of $971.61 (for up to 12 weeks), an increase from $840.70 for up to 10 weeks in 2020.

Rhode Island

The 2021 taxable wage base is $74,000, up from $72,300 in 2020, for combined TDI and Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) programs. The 2021 employee contribution rate remains 1.3% of employee wages. Rhode Island updates its weekly benefit amount each July. The maximum weekly benefit is $887 for benefit years beginning on or after July 1, 2020, until a new rate is announced in July 1, 2021.

Washington

The Washington’s 2021 employee contribution rate remains at 0.2533% of wages (2/3 of the total 0.4% contribution) up to a taxable wage base of $142,800. Employers with at least 50 employees in the state contribute 0.14668% of wages (55% of the medical contribution). The maximum weekly benefit is $1,206 in 2021, up from $1,000 in 2020.

Washington, DC

The employer contribution rate is unchanged from the program’s start — 0.62% of DC payroll. 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, is $1,000.

Catherine Stamm
by Catherine Stamm

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Katharine Marshall
by Katharine Marshall

Senior Principal, Mercer's Law & Policy Group

Charlene D’Ambrosio
by Charlene D’Ambrosio

Senior Associate, Mercer Health

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