Looking at the New Parental Leave Law with Greg Labate

Did you know the new Parental Leave Law can have implications on your company’s employee benefits?  It’s true! We recently sat down with legal eagle Greg S. Labate, Esq., Labor & Employment Practice Group Leader with Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP to ask a few questions about this new law and its impact on companies out there.

Kelly: So, Greg how “new” is this new law?
Greg: The New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) was signed into law on October 11, 2017, but took effect on January 1, 2018 and applies to employers with 20 or more employees.

Kelly:  …And what does it say?
Greg:  The NPLA provides eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement.

Kelly:  And there are stipulations of course?
Greg:  Of course. The NPLA affords protections to an employee: (1) with more than 12 months of service with the employer; (2) who has at least 1,250 hours of service during the previous 12-month period; and (3) who works at a worksite in which the employer employs at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius. Employees can utilize accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, other accrued paid time off, or other paid or unpaid time off negotiated with the employer during the period of parental leave.

Kelly:  What does the law say about health insurance coverage during this leave time?
Greg:  This is a very important and often overlooked point.  It says that employers are required to maintain and pay for insurance coverage for an eligible employee who takes parental leave.

Kelly:  Interesting! Anything else?
Greg:  Yes. Employees can take pregnancy disability leave for up to four months without using the 12 weeks of parental leave under the NPLA. The NPLA also does not provide additional parental leave rights to employees who already enjoy similar rights under the FMLA and/or the CFRA.

Kelly:  What if both parents are employees?  How does that work now?
Greg:  If both parents are employed by the same employer, the employer need not grant leave that would allow the parents parental leave totaling more than 12 weeks within the year. Also, an employer may, but is not required to, grant simultaneous leave to both spouses.

Kelly: What do you want to make sure employers know about this?
Greg:  Basically, that new parents are now entitled to a leave of absence regardless of whether they qualify for leave under the FMLA and/or CFRA. And that employers should ensure that their policies provide for leave under the new law.

And there you have it — more useful info from a great resource and friend of Moore Benefits. Ruling your world means knowing the implications of the latest laws. If you have any questions or concerns about making your health insurance and leave policies work together to stay in compliance with the NPLA, please contact my team of employee benefits experts and we’ll be happy to help you! If you want to contact Greg Lebate directly, he’s at GLabate@sheppardmullin.com.

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