Compliance Update 2022: The New Year Brings New Employee Leave Entitlements
Director of Compliance
In our current rapidly changing environment, leave laws in the United States and Canada are constantly expanding. 2022 will be no different. A diverse array of new employee leave entitlements, taking effect in January, will greatly affect employers and increase time off for workers. Below are highlights of ten major leave law changes North American employers should know about:
California Family Rights Act (CFRA) Amended
The CFRA requires California employers with five or more employees and public agencies (regardless of size) to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying reasons, including caring for covered family members with a serious health condition. In 2021, care for a “family member” included an employee’s parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, and registered domestic partner. However, on January 1, 2022, California employers also became obligated to grant eligible employees CFRA leave to care for a parent-in-law with a serious health condition.
Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) Amended
In 2021, VESSA required covered Illinois employers to provide employees victimized by domestic violence, gender violence, or sexual violence (or employees whose family or household members were victims) with up to 12 weeks of annual unpaid leave for specified reasons such as seeking medical care or victim services. Taking effect January 1, 2022, amendments to VESSA expand the definition of family or household members for whom leave can be taken to include parties to a civil union, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, any other person related by civil union. These amendments also include any other person whose close association with the employee is equivalent to a family relationship as determined by the employee. The amendments also added “crime of violence” as a leave reason.
Connecticut Paid Leave (CPL)
Effective January 1, 2022, the new CPL law grants employees in Connecticut access to paid leave for qualifying life events under the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act. Generally, CPL provides income replacement for 12 weeks every 12 months, with up to 2 additional weeks of income replacement during leave for incapacity due to a serious health condition occurring during pregnancy. Additionally, up to 12 days of the 12 weeks of leave can be used for income replacement during family violence leave.
Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) Amended
While previously requiring 75 employees, CTFMLA now applies to employers with one or more Connecticut employees effective January 1, 2022. Other changes include reducing the length of service requirement needed to take leave from 12 to three months and no longer applying the hours-worked qualification for employee leave eligibility.
As for the amount of leave available, employees are now entitled to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period instead of the former 16 weeks of leave in a 24-month period, with two additional weeks of leave if they have an incapacitating serious health condition occurring during pregnancy.
New York State Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) Amended
Effective January 1, 2022, a regulatory amendment clarified that when NYPFL is used intermittently in increments of a full day, the basis of the maximum number of intermittent leave days an employee can take is the average number of days they work per week, times 12. Also, starting January 1, 2023, the NYPFL will expand to allow employees to take leave to care for siblings with serious health conditions.
Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) Amended
The state of Oregon amended its family leave law, OFLA, to update and expand eligibility for OFLA leave effective January 1, 2022. The amendments grant eligibility for leave to employees reemployed after a separation or return to work within 180 days after a temporary work cessation, expands leave entitlements and eligibility during public health emergencies, and removes gendered language from the pregnancy provisions of the law. Also, these amendments codify recent rule changes made by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries to broaden OFLA leave reasons, including leave for an employee with a child who requires home care due to the closing of the child’s school or childcare provider for a public health emergency.
Rhode Island Extends Temporary Caregiver Leave
Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Leave Insurance Program formerly provided eligible workers with up to 4 weeks of caregiver leave benefits to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent, or to bond with a new child. On July 6, 2021, Rhode Island approved an expansion to its temporary caregiver leave benefit program increasing benefits to five weeks in a year starting January 1, 2022, and to six weeks in a year beginning January 1, 2023.
Ontario Extends Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave
On April 29, 2021, Ontario amended its Employment Standards Act to require employers to provide eligible employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. Paid infectious disease emergency leave was initially scheduled to end September 25, 2021, but extended to December 31, 2021, and then extended again to July 31, 2022.
British Columbia Paid Illness and Injury Leave
In November 2021, the British Columbia government announced a plan to amend its Employment Standards Act to require British Columbia employers to permanently provide five paid illness and injury leave days to workers employed by them for 90 days, effective January 1, 2022. The leave applies to full-time and part-time workers and cannot be carried over to the next year if not used. For employers with union agreements or policies already providing paid sick leave, there is no need to increase or change their sick leave benefits if their sick leave provisions meet or exceed the law’s requirements.
Canada Labour Code Amended
The Canada Labour Code, which regulates federally regulated Industries and workplaces in Canada, was amended in December 2021 by extending the period during which employees may take leave from work because of the death of a child and provide leave in the event of the loss of an unborn child. The amendment also repeals personal leave employees may take to treat their illnesses and injuries and grants employees up to 10 days of medical leave with pay in a calendar year. These amendments will come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.
With the beginning of the new year, employers must ensure the proper management of their leave entitlements by reviewing and making necessary updates to employee policies. Remember, there is no finish line for new employment laws, and new leave laws can be passed at any time throughout the year. To remain compliant, employers must continue to be vigilant and stay ahead of change.
As we proceed in 2022, legislative impacts to business operations show little signs of slowing down. How can employers prepare for what’s ahead?
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