HR Policy Releases White Paper Critiquing Patchwork of State Paid Sick Leave Laws

May 10, 2019

A new HR Policy white paper coauthored with Littler's Workplace Policy Institute® examines how often-conflicting paid sick leave requirements create confusion among employees and frustrate the ability of multi-state employers to provide uniformity and consistency across their widely-spread employee populations.

The Association’s thought leadership continues to provide guidance to policymakers considering mandated paid leave legislation.  Our analysis will help legislators in the states, localities, and ultimately in Washington as they continue to consider (and reconsider) various leave requirements.

The paper zeroes in on the differences between paid sick, paid family, and paid parental leave.  It reviews where states have gotten it right and wrong, making a case for federal preemption.

This is our second joint analysis with WPI, following a review of gender pay equity legislation in the states last year. 

In Congress: “Today the question isn’t whether to expand paid family leave, but how best to achieve it,” said House Ways and Means Committee ranking Republican Kevin Brady (R-TX).   At a hearing of the revenue-raising committee this week, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle agreed families need the flexibility to tend to their own personal and medical needs and those of family members.  But as in issues ranging from infrastructure to disaster recovering funding, the question is who pays for it. 

Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said what we’ve known for some time—that with lack of federal action, the states have jumped in.  “To the extent that workers are seeing an improvement in benefits or wages, this is a result of the tight labor market, which does not benefit all workers equally, and a result of states stepping up because the federal government has failed to act.”

Two bits of positive news:

  • In Colorado, leave advocates gave up on legislation requiring a statewide family leave plan.  Instead they’ve settled on a task force to include business leaders, workers, and academics to study how to implement a state insurance fund for workers to use when family members are sick.

  • Safe harbor in Massachusetts paid family leave law:  Employers offering paid leave now “may be eligible to receive an exemption from collecting, remitting, and paying contributions for paid family or medical leave under the state's Paid Family and Medical Leave law.”

Keep an eye out.  Just last week, the Illinois Senate approved a mandated sick leave bill that now heads to the House of Representatives.

Good for the goose:  The House appropriations bill that funds Congress included language directing the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer to study family leave practices on Capitol Hill and examine standing up a paid family and medical leave policy for Hill staffers.  Currently, there is no Congress-wide policy for paid leave.  Instead, each member’s office may have its own policy and benefits don’t carry over from one office to another.  Congress frequently exempts itself from labor policy requirements.