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Published on Monday, June 19, 2017

Agreement reached on new statewide Paid Family and Disability Leave program

The Legislature introduced dueling bills early in the 2017 session to create a funded paid family and disability leave program. Representatives from the labor and business communities and each of the legislative caucuses have been negotiating over the past few months to see if they could reach agreement on a program.

This past week, the negotiators announced that they had reached a tentative agreement on the parameters of the program and will be introducing new legislation for a vote later this month.

The program is intended to cover all employees and provide paid leave for a medical disability as well as paid leave to care for a family member.

We have not yet seen the details of the agreement, but understand it will include some of the following parameters:

  • The Employment Security Department (ESD) will administer the program. ESD will collect the premiums and make the payments to covered individuals.
  • Employees must work 820 hours in the last five quarters to qualify – once they qualify, they are vested and there is no waiting period to use the benefit if they change employers.
  • There will be 12 weeks of family leave and 12 weeks of disability leave with a combined 16-week cap in a twelve-month period.
  • Employees will receive a percentage of their weekly wage, with the lowest paid employees receiving 90 percent of their average weekly wage. Those earning more will receive a lower percentage with a maximum of $1,000 per week.
  • Premium sharing will be 45 percent employee paid and 55 percent employer paid for the disability leave portion of the program and 100 percent employee paid for the family leave portion of the program. Only employers with more than 50 employees will pay the employer premium, but all employees will pay the employee share.
  • The state will begin collecting premiums in 2019 and benefits will begin in 2020.
  • Job protections provisions will be similar to FMLA and only apply to employers with 50 or more employees.
  • There will be a waiver program for employers who offer equal to or better benefits to opt out of the state program. There will not be a specific exemption for Collective Bargaining Agreements.
  • Cities will be preempted from adopting additional requirements for family and disability leave for employers in their jurisdictions.

AWC staff will continue to follow this issue closely and report on additional details as they become available.

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