State of the States: Paid Leave Measures Continue to Advance

July 07, 2017

As legislative sessions around the country come to a close, a number of important labor and employment bills remain in play and several landmark measures have been passed or await a governor's signature, including a pair of paid family and medical leave bills.  Per the most recent Littler State of the States report, 12 state legislatures remain in session and two more are in special session, with a number of important employment-related bills still under consideration.  As the new laws add to the growing patchwork of state and local requirements on companies, advocates for paid family and medical leave look ahead to a federal measure.  "We don't see this as an alternative to federal policy; we see this as a way to get a federal bill," said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work.  "It creates an imbalance where a certain number of people have it and others say, 'We want it.'"  Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump is determined to set the foundation for such legislation, with several meetings with policymakers and a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.

Paid Family and Medical Leave (Washington, New Jersey, Rhode Island)  Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill requiring employers and employees together to pay 0.4 percent of a worker's wages into a state insurance program to fund employees' paid medical or family leave.  Employers are on the hook for 63 percent of that sum, while employees pay 37 percent and companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from such contributions.  The program provides up to 12 weeks of paid family leave after the birth or adoption of a child or for an employee to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The measure also allows for 12 weeks for an employee’s own serious health condition, up to a maximum of 18 weeks per year.  Meanwhile, sitting on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's desk is a bill that would amend the New Jersey Family Leave Act to double the time paid family leave benefits are available to up to 12 weeks and to raise the amount of pay available.  Rhode Island is contending with two paid sick leave bills in its State Senate and House, respectively, that will need to be reconciled before being sent to Governor Gina Raimondo.  The State Senate bill will require employers to provide one hour of sick leave for every 30 worked, while the State House version mandates three days of paid sick time in 2018, four in 2019, and five in 2020. 

Scheduling (Oregon, Georgia)  Following the passage of a sweeping gender pay equity bill, Oregon's House and Senate passed a bill requiring large employers in the retail, hospitality, and food service industries to provide employees with seven days' advance notice of their work schedules and to compensate employees for employer-requested changes to those schedules.  The notice requirement is set to increase to 14 days in 2020.  Additionally, employees will be entitled to a minimum of 10 hours' rest between shifts and to identify any scheduling concerns.  The measure also continues a mandate that disallows local governments from enacting their own scheduling laws.  Georgia, meanwhile, enacted a preemption bill prohibiting local governments from instituting ordinances that mandate additional pay based on employee scheduling changes.

Background Checks (California, Pennsylvania)  A California bill that would prohibit employers from inquiring into or considering a job candidate's criminal or conviction history prior to making a conditional offer has been passed by both the State Assembly and a Senate Committee.  Pennsylvania, on the other hand, is considering a bill that would provide immunity to employers who hire individuals with an expunged criminal history from liability in a civil action based on damages suffered as a result of criminal or other unlawful conduct by the employee.