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New State Leave Laws are Popping Up Around the U.S.

Oct 2, 2017

Compliance Corner:  October 2017
Paul Kramer

Paul Kramer

Director of Compliance

Employee leave laws at the state level are on the rise. They’re also becoming increasingly complex. As an employer, staying current with these new or amended regulations is essential, as they can significantly affect your business.

Below are short descriptions of several state leave laws that recently took effect or will take effect soon.

Connecticut: Pregnancy Accommodation Leave

Effective October 1, 2017, a new Connecticut law requires employers with three or more employees to grant a reasonable leave of absence for disabilities resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions (including lactation), unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship.

Florida: Civil Air Patrol Leave

Effective July 1, 2017, Florida employers with 15 or more employees generally must provide up to 15 days of unpaid leave annually to members of the Florida Wing of the Civil Air Patrol to participate in Civil Air Patrol training or missions.

Upon completing the leave, employees must be restored to their jobs unless the employer can demonstrate the existence of circumstances such as undue hardship or changes to the employer’s situation that make restoration impossible or unreasonable.

Finally, Civil Air Patrol members may not be discharged, except for cause, for one year following their return from Civil Air Patrol Leave.

Hawaii: Family Leave

On July 10, 2017, the Governor of Hawaii signed into law a bill expanding Hawaii’s Family Leave Law.

Effective immediately, the new law added “siblings” to the list of covered family members with a serious health condition for whom employees may take leave to provide care.

New York: Paid Family Leave

Beginning January 1, 2018, New York Paid Family Leave will be phased in over the next few years.

The purpose of the leave is to allow eligible employees to care for covered family members with a serious health condition, to bond with a child during the first 12 months after birth or placement, or to take time off where a covered family member is called to active military duty.

In 2018, the law provides up to eight weeks of paid leave and increases incrementally to 12 weeks by 2020.

Nevada: Domestic Violence Leave

Beginning January 1, 2018, Nevada employers will be required to provide leave and other accommodations for domestic violence victims, or for family members or household members of victims of domestic violence.

Employees who have been employed by an employer for at least 90 days and who are victims of domestic violence, or whose family member or household member is a victim of domestic violence (and the employee is not the alleged perpetrator), are entitled to 160 hours of leave in a 12-month period.

The leave, which may be paid or unpaid, must be used within 12 months of the date the domestic violence occurred.

Employees may use leave relating to domestic violence for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a health condition; to obtain counseling or assistance; to participate in court proceedings; and to establish a safety plan, including any activities to protect against future acts of domestic violence.

Vermont: Pregnancy Accommodation Leave

On May 4, 2017, Vermont’s Governor signed into law a bill requiring employers to provide workplace accommodations for an employee’s pregnancy-related condition, absent undue hardship.

Although this new law does not specifically grant a leave of absence, it requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, which could include leave time.

The law’s effective date is January 1, 2018.

Washington: Pregnancy Accommodation Leave

As of July 23, 2017, Washington employers with 15 or more employees must provide pregnant employees—and employees with pregnancy-related health conditions—with time off from work as an accommodation if there is no significant difficulty or expense to the employer.

West Virginia: Civil Air Patrol Leave

Effective July 1, 2017, West Virginia employers with more than 15 employees must provide employees who are members of the West Virginia Wing of the Civil Air Patrol with up to 10 days of unpaid leave per calendar year for emergency mission training and up to 30 days of unpaid leave per calendar year for emergency mission response.

A note from Paul:

The leaves described in this article are not intended to be an exhaustive list of new state leave laws.

It is meant to show how quickly new employee leave entitlements can arise and the importance for employers to keep up with the laws in all states where they have employees.

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