Paid family and medical leave (PFML) legislation has certainly been trending this year; however, there seems to be another sort of trend: legislation creating a paid family and medical leave insurance (PFMLI) program. What’s the difference? Honestly, for most states, the difference is only in name – for example, Oregon’s upcoming program is called a “PFMLI” program despite being similar in structure to a statutory paid leave. However, for New Hampshire, Virginia, and Vermont, they are taking the word “insurance” literally. Specifically, both New Hampshire and Vermont have enacted a PFMLI program where an insurance company actually administers the program, not the state, and Virginia created a new class of insurance for paid leave.
In New Hampshire, the program will be run by MetLife, the recently selected Request for Proposals (RFP) bid winner. MetLife will implement and administer the new plans, which are set to become available January 1, 2023. Draft regulations have recently been proposed and will apply to all individual and group policies and certificates that provide coverage for family and medical leave wage replacement insurance benefits. A public hearing will be held on July 25, and written comments are due August 1. The draft regulations can be found here. For additional details regarding the New Hampshire PFMLI program, please take a look at our blog here.
Vermont’s PFMLI program is also making progress. At the beginning of July, Vermont issued an RFP to select the Vermont Voluntary Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Administrator, seeking an insurance carrier capable of underwriting, insuring, and administering a PFMLI program beginning July 1, 2023. The coverage will be tackled in three phases:
- Phase 1: State of Vermont employees
- Phase 2: Other private and public employers with 10 or more employees
- Phase 3: Small employers with less than 10 employees; eligible individual employees, including self-employed individuals
Like New Hampshire, this will not be a state-mandated PFML program, but will instead provide an optional opportunity for employers and individuals in Vermont to contract with the winning insurance carrier to acquire coverage through the state’s relationship with that carrier.
In Virginia, legislation this past spring established private family leave insurance as a class of insurance and defines “family leave insurance” as an insurance policy issued to an employer related to a benefit program to pay for the employee’s income loss due to taking leave for specified reasons. Under the new law, family leave insurance may be added to an existing group disability income policy as an amendment or rider or written as a separate group insurance policy purchased by an employer. This law became effective July 1, 2022.
These avant-garde paid leave programs are paving the way for the private insurance sector to develop new products that will make paid leave available to more Americans. Only time will tell if this will be a unique situation in a handful of jurisdictions, or if other states will follow suit.
What ReedGroup Is Doing
ReedGroup continuously tracks and analyzes federal and state leave and disability legislation to ensure our products and processes remain compliant and are up to date. We also watch proposed legislation to be able to spot trends in absence-related legislation. Overwhelmed by the ever-changing leave-law landscape? ReedGroup has solutions for you, including comprehensive absence management administration and compliant SaaS products. Check out our offerings here.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.