The Michigan legislature was within its authority to amend two ballot initiatives in 2018, one to significantly raise the minimum wage and the other to greatly expand the availability of paid sick leave to employees, the Michigan Court of Appeals has held. Mothering Justice v. Attorney General, 2023 Mich. App. LEXIS 625 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 26, 2023).

Read more here.

Beginning on January 1, 2023, the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Program’s “total premium” rate rose to 0.8% from 0.6%.  This rate is recalculated annually in October, based on contributions from premiums and benefits paid during the previous year. 

As was true in previous years, employers must report to the Washington Employment Security Department each Washington employee’s total gross wages, not including tips, and collect premiums up to the Social Security cap ($160,200 in 2023).  Once an employee meets the Social Security cap, employers must stop collecting premiums, but they must continue to report employee wages. 

Employers with 50 or more people employed will pay at least 27.24% of the total premium, which would require their employees to pay 72.76% of the total premium. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the total premium but must collect the employee portion of the premium or pay it on their behalf.  Employers with approved “voluntary plans” under this law should consult with employment counsel about possible modifications to the “voluntary plans.”

For more information about Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program, or other paid leave laws and programs that may affect your organization, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney.

On Friday, January 13, 2022, a New York State Supreme Court Judge for Onondaga County struck down the New York State Department of Health regulation mandating certain healthcare professionals be “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19, declaring the regulation to be “null, void, and of no effect.”  (Medical Professionals for Informed Consent, et. al. v. Bassett, et al.)

The New York State Healthcare COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate initially was enacted as an Executive Order in August 2021 under then Governor Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers. Almost one year after the state of emergency ended in New York, the New York State Health Commissioner adopted the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate as a permanent regulation in June 2022. 

On October 20, 2022, Petitioners-Plaintiffs Medical Professionals for Informed Consent sought to enjoin and permanently restrain Defendants-Respondents, including the Commissioner of Health, Governor Hochul and the New York State Department of Health, from implementing or enforcing the COVID-19 Healthcare Vaccine Mandate.

The court held that New York State’s Public Health Law limits the Commissioner of Health from implementing any mandatory immunization program except as provided under the Public Health Law and that since none of the coronaviruses are covered under the Public Health Law, the Commissioner of Health acted outside the scope of her authority in implementing the vaccine mandate. 

As of now, there has been no statement from the Department of Health regarding whether they intend to appeal the decision. 

In the meantime, healthcare employers should be mindful that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ COVID-19 vaccine requirement may still apply to their organization.

If you have any questions about what this decision means for your organization, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney.

The federal appeals court in Chicago has provided helpful guidance on employers’ obligation to accommodate qualified individuals’ medical restrictions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a case involving a correctional officer.

Read more here.

The new year brings new laws for employers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP For Nursing Mothers Act) were adopted when President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 on Dec. 29, 2022. Read our full article for practical guidance for employers.

Starting January 1, 2023, Colorado employers must comply with Colorado’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Act, which requires nearly all employers and all employees to contribute to the state’s paid family and medical leave program.

FAMLI Benefits for Colorado Employees

Colorado’s FAMLI program will provide Colorado employees with up to twelve weeks of paid time off for certain qualifying life events, similar to federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) qualifying events. Qualifying events include:

  • Caring for a new child;
  • Caring for an employee’s own serious health condition;
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Making arrangements for a family member’s military deployment; and
  • Obtaining services in response to intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse.

Qualifying employees must have also earned $2,500 from any employer over the previous year for work performed in Colorado. FAMLI does not necessarily provide 100% of an employee’s salary while on leave. Employees will receive between 37% and 90% of their weekly wages, up to $1,100 per week, while on leave.

How is FAMLI Funded?

Similar to unemployment insurance, the FAMLI program is funded through employer and employee “premium” contributions. Colorado employers with 10 or more employees (regardless of where located) must contribute at least 0.45% of the employee’s wages each pay period and process the employee’s own .45% premium deduction for a total 0.9% of what the employee earns going to FAMLI. Employers may elect to cover more than half of the required premium as a benefit to the employee, but cannot contribute less. Employers and employees can estimate their premium liability here and view a sample paystub with FAMLI deductions here

Private employers may apply for an exemption from FAMLI by submitting a private plan so long as it provides equal or greater benefits and protections than the FAMLI plan to all employees. Employers may choose to work with a private insurance company to manage their private plan or manage their own self-insured private plan secured with a surety bond. Any private plan must be approved by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Division before a company can be exempt from paying the above-described premiums.  Until a private plan is approved, employers must pay premiums to the FAMLI Division. Once approved, the employer may seek reimbursement for those previously paid premiums.

FAMLI in 2023

  • Be ready to collect premiums: Employers should communicate with their payroll departments or payroll company to verify that FAMLI premiums will be deducted beginning January 1, 2023.
  • Notify employees: Employers need to inform employees about the FAMLI program by January 1, 2023. The required poster is available here and a sample paycheck stuffer/notice is available here.
  • Register: Employers must register here with the FAMLI Division and remit premium payments by April 30, 2023.
  • Consider plan options: Employers should discuss private plan options with their insurance brokers or financial planners or consider providing a self-insured private plan if that makes sense for the company.

Receiving FAMLI Benefits in 2024

FAMLI benefits become available to employees on January 1, 2024. Eligible employees will submit FAMLI requests through the FAMLI Division for benefits.  The FAMLI Division will facilitate the entire application and payment process with the employee. While on leave, employees will be paid through the FAMLI program. Employers may supplement this payment if the employee requests that other available benefits, such as PTO or STD, supplement the FAMLI payments. Employees should provide employers notice of when they will be applying for FAMLI, but if they do not, the FAMLI Division will notify the employer of the employee’s request.

Employers can also start preparing for the full FAMLI program in 2024 by understanding the interplay of FAMLI and other protected leave and benefits.

  • If an employee initiates FMLA leave, the employer must notify the employee of FAMLI benefits. FMLA and FAMLI are designed to run concurrently.
  • Employees cannot be required to use paid time off (PTO) before or during their use of FAMLI, but can choose to do so with a written agreement between the employee and employer.
  • Employers may count both the FAMLI wage replacement amount and the duration of FAMLI leave toward the limits included in their short-term and long-term disability policies, so long as written notice is provided.

If you have any questions about the new Colorado FAMLI program and employer obligations, please contact Melisa Panagakos at melisa.panagakos@jacksonlewis.com.

The Paid Leave Oregon program commences on January 1, 2023. As an initial step, most Oregon employers must alert employees about the program and begin paying into the state insurance plan. The law requires employers post the Oregon Employment Department’s model notice at the worksite and distribute the same notice to remote workers.

Additionally, for most employers, the law requires Oregon employers withhold and remit contributions to the program starting January 1, 2023. Total contributions are one percent of each employee’s gross wages, up to an annual maximum of $132,900. Employers with 25 or more employees are required to pay 40% of the contribution with employees paying 60%, although employers of all sizes may choose to pay a portion, or all, of the premium on behalf of employees. Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to contribute the employer portion of the premium, but are still responsible for collecting the employees’ contribution.

Employers have the option of obtaining state approval for an equivalent plan. The Oregon Employment Department has prepared a check list and application form for equivalent plans.  Employers seeking approval for an equivalent plan must offer benefits to employees that are equal to or greater than those provided by the state through the Paid Leave Oregon program. Once approved by the state, an equivalent plan becomes effective at the start of the next calendar quarter.

Benefits under the Paid Leave Oregon program become available to employees on September 3, 2023. Benefits are available to part-time, full-time, and seasonal employees that experience a family or medical event. Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks off from work in a benefit year, and in some situations up to 14 weeks. The state will make eligibility determinations and pay eligible employees out of the state fund. An employee’s weekly benefit amount is determined by comparing the employee’s salary against the state’s average weekly wage. In 2023, the Department’s designated “average weekly wage” is $1,224.82. Employees who earn less than 65% of the average weekly wage will receive full wage replacement during the leave period. Employees who earn more than 65% of the average weekly wage will receive additional amounts, up to 120% of the state’s average weekly wage (currently approximately $1,469).

While employees apply directly to the Department to initiate a benefits claim, employers may require advance notice from any employee planning or taking leave. Restoration and reinstatement rights vary based on a variety of factors including but not limited to size of the employer and length of employment of the employee.

If you have questions about how the Paid Leave Oregon program or other leave laws and programs impact your organization, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney.