October 20, 2020
In recent years, state and local laws requiring paid sick, family, caregiver, or other forms of leave have proliferated. Currently, 12 states, the District of Columbia, and several municipalities require employers to provide paid sick leave; while 8 states and the District of Columbia require paid family leave. More states and municipalities are likely to adopt similar leave requirements. Most recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal legislation added emergency paid sick leave and an expansion of family and medical leave for employers with fewer than 500 employees, along with employer tax credits to offset the cost of the new leave requirements. Some states and localities have extended the requirements to employers with 500 or more employees without providing tax credits.
Large employers often provide leave benefits that match or exceed those required by law. However, they face unnecessary administrative burdens from state and local leave laws that require compliance with unique accrual, reporting, notice, and recordkeeping rules. State and local requirements also make it difficult for large employers to maintain and administer nationwide, uniform leave benefits.
Federal, state, and municipal lawmakers should minimize the administrative and cost burden of leave requirements by:
- Establishing nationwide, uniform rules for providing and administering paid leave;
- Deeming employer leave benefits meeting or exceeding required leave amounts in compliance with state or local law;
- Consulting with employers, leave tracking systems, and other stakeholders during the development of any new leave proposals;
- Harmonizing any new leave proposals with existing accrual, reporting, recordkeeping, and other administrative requirements; and
- Allowing flexibility to adapt compliance procedures to employers’ existing payroll, HR, recordkeeping, IT, and other systems.
With respect to emergency leave adopted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers should:
- Minimize employee financial dislocation and other hardships associated with COVID-19, including leave benefits; and
- Permit flexibility and minimize administrative burdens for employers for leave programs to support affected employees and their families.
Why it Matters
- Employers recognize the value of paid leave in recruiting and retaining talent; improving employee health, well-being, and workforce productivity; and demonstrating community commitment.
- The proliferation of diverse, intricate, and administratively burdensome leave requirements is inhibiting innovative leave designs.
- Complicated leave requirements also create difficulties for employees to navigate and use their leave benefits.
- The lack of uniform rules within employer-sponsored leave benefits creates inconsistent approach and design for employers and their workforces, diminishes the employee experience, and requires costly IT and administrative modifications.