New Hampshire’s Paid Family and Sick Leave Plan: Granite State Groundbreaking – Employee Benefits and Compensation

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The New Hampshire Paid Family and Medical Leave (NH PFML) Plan, also known as the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan, is the state’s first and only voluntary, state-sponsored paid vacation plan. Eligible New Hampshire employers (public employers and private employers with more than fifty employees) and eligible employees are eligible to enroll in the NH PFML plan. (Only government employees are eligible for paid family leave.) NH PFML provides insured workers up to 60 percent of their average weekly wage up to the Social Security maximum wage for up to six weeks per year, plus one seven-calendar day of unpaid elimination time per year, for absences from the Work for covered events. Events covered include:

  • the birth or adoption of a child or the care of a newborn or newly adopted or foster child during the first year of life;

  • caring for the spouse, child or parent of an employee with a serious medical condition;

  • caring for a spouse, child or parent in the military;

  • military necessity; and

  • a personal serious medical condition unrelated to employment if the employer does not offer short-term disability insurance.

Employees may take uninterrupted or intermittent leave of at least four hours apart. Employers who elect to participate in the program must contribute to payroll deductions and continue health insurance coverage for employees while on leave. Employers with fifty or more employees who provide NH PFML to their employees are required to restore employees who take leave to the position they held prior to such leave or to an equivalent position under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA ) or Family and Medical Exit insurance under NH Rev. Stat. ann. Section 275:37-d.

What options do employers have under the NH PFML?

Employers who purchase NH PFML insurance from New Hampshire’s PFML insurance partner, either directly or through an insurance agent, broker or consultant, are eligible for a Business Tax Credit (BET) of up to 50 percent of their premium payments. Granite State employers must consider several options, including whether to fully fund the cost of premiums to employees, share the cost of premiums with their employees, or pass on the full cost of premiums to employees. While New Hampshire Department of Insurance regulations allow other insurance companies to apply for approval to provide plans for paid family and sick leave benefits, employers who have other paid family and sick leave insurance plans or employer equivalent coverage do not qualify for the BET credit.

The NH PFML plan is still in development and there is ongoing uncertainty about its implementation. Some sources suggest employers will have the option to offer six or 12 weeks of paid leave, others suggest just six weeks. The 12-week option would only apply, if at all, to employers who offer group insurance. Individual plans and government employees are only eligible for six weeks plus an unpaid cut-off period of seven calendar days.

What are the options for employees under the NH PFML?

Eligible employees can purchase NH PFML for themselves if their employers do not offer NH PFML insurance or an equivalent benefit. The NH PFML Individual Insurance Plan provides employees with 60 percent wage replacement for six weeks and premium payments are capped at $5 per week or $260 annually. Employees with individual insurance plans are subject to a seven-month waiting period before making a claim and must have an unpaid period of seven calendar days once per benefit period before benefits can be paid.

When does enrollment start?

The enrollment period for employers begins on December 1, 2022 and remains open. For individual plans, the registration period starts on January 1, 2023 and remains open until March 2, 2023.

The central theses

This is the first voluntarily state-paid family and sick leave plan in the nation that allows employees who wish to participate to request paid state leave without requiring bonus payments for employees who choose not to. Employers can participate and offer at least six weeks paid leave. If employers choose not to participate in the NH PFML plan, employees can take out individual insurance plans that provide six weeks of paid leave subject to a seven-month waiting period. Enrollment for employers begins on December 1, 2022 and is possible continuously. Employee registration begins January 1, 2023 and runs through March 2, 2023.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the topic. In relation to your specific circumstances, you should seek advice from a specialist.

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