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Paid sick and safe leave laws continue to spread, and ‘any reason’ laws starting to emerge

Health and Benefits|Integrated Wellbeing

By Cindy Brockhausen and William (Bill) Kalten | August 26, 2019

Employees in two states can now use accrued paid leave for any reason. Employers should review their policies as the paid sick leave landscape changes.

Maine and Nevada have recently enacted groundbreaking laws that allow employees to use accrued paid leave for any reason. In other respects, the laws are structured similarly to the 35 state and local paid sick/safe leave (PSL) laws that have been enacted to date in 11 states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) and 24 localities (including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico).

Below is a summary of the new paid “any reason” and paid sick leave laws since our last update.1

New paid ‘any reason’ leave laws

Under Maine’s new leave law, employers with more than 10 employees working more than 120 days a year must offer one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked — up to 40 hours a year — which may be used for any reason. The law’s structure is otherwise similar to other paid sick leave laws, although it is silent on a number of issues such as frontloading, carryover and reinstatement following rehire requirements. The paid leave mandate takes effect on January 1, 2021, and prohibits localities from enacting their own mandates.

Similarly, Nevada’s mandate does not restrict paid leave to specific circumstances, and generally establishes accrual, frontloading, carryover, notice and reinstatement rules similar to those found in other paid sick leave laws. Employers with more than 50 employees must provide 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour worked (i.e., 40 hours a year for a 40-hour work week). The law takes effect on the later of January 1, 2020, or once implementing regulations and procedures are in place.

New paid sick leave laws and updates

The PSL law in Dallas, Texas, requires employers with more than 15 employees to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours a year (employers with 15 or fewer employees must provide up to 48 hours a year). Accrued, unused leave must be carried over to the next year, subject to the 64- and 48-hour caps, unless employers frontload the yearly cap amount at the beginning of the year. The law took effect on August 1, 2019, for employers with more than five employees and becomes effective on August 1, 2021, for employers with five or fewer employees; however, a lawsuit challenging the new law was recently filed.

Overruling earlier trial and appellate court decisions, the PSL law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was found to be constitutional by the state Supreme Court. The law requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide one hour of paid leave for every 35 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year (smaller employers must provide up to 24 hours a year, unpaid for the first year after the effective date). The original effective date was January 11, 2016, and a new effective date has yet to be established.

Westchester County, New York, has enacted a stand-alone paid safe leave law requiring employers to provide 40 hours of paid leave per year to victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. The leave may be used to attend or testify in criminal or civil court proceedings related to domestic violence or human trafficking, and to move to a safe location. This leave is in addition to leave provided under the county’s recently implemented PSL mandate. The new law goes into effect on or around October 30, 2019.

San Antonio, Texas, enacted a law that, as currently written, requires employers with more than 15 employees to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours a year, and employers with 15 or fewer employees to grant 48 hours per year. Employers with five or fewer employees are not required to comply until August 2021. Due to a legal challenge, the effective date for larger employers has been delayed until December 1, 2019 (from August 1, 2019). Revisions to the law are likely, as the lawsuit will resume if changes are not made by November 6, 2019.

For a current listing of all the states and localities with PSL and “any reason” laws, see the map below. Absent a federal mandate, these laws and regulatory developments are expected to continue.

Going forward

Employers in states and localities with PSL and “any reason” laws should review their leave policies and procedures to ensure they comply with the laws in their operational jurisdictions, and their payroll records properly track the accrual and usage of paid leave. Federal contractors must comply with Executive Order 13706 and its related regulations.

Employers should be aware of potential changes to the PSL landscape, as jurisdictions such as Bernalillo County, New Mexico, have shifted gears from considering a PSL law to an “any reason” law, and New York City is considering expanding its existing PSL law to allow use of accrued leave for any reason.

As the number of these laws grows, multistate employers may wish to consider crafting a uniform policy that meets requirements in all their jurisdictions, although doing so could prove challenging as the laws in some jurisdictions could conflict with laws in others.


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