Many insurance companies and distributors are eager to talk about government paid family leave programs right now because… they can.
Uncertainty about federal health insurance policy makes coming up with something clear and accurate to say about the future of major medical insurance difficult. Low interest rates, weak consumer finances and uncertainty about federal retirement investment advice standards make talking about retirement plans, and even some types of interest-sensitive personal protection insurance products, more challenging.
One thing benefits players can still offer clients is helping with understanding, and, in some cases, providing, voluntary, or statutorily required, paid family leave programs.
(Related: DMEC Chief: Paid Leave Has Momentum)
The law in that area is changing, but in a way that legislative affairs specialists and compliance specialists can talk about reasonably clearly, not so chaotically that everyone in the audience gets down on the floor and asks for the whirling to stop.
Here are five things for agents and brokers to know about paid family leave now, based on an interview with Brian Dunham of ShelterPoint Life Insurance Co.; a slidedeck used by Breanna Scott and Melissa Oliver-Janiak of Standard Insurance Co. for a recent Disability Management Employer Coalition webinar; and a slidedeck used by Pauline Sobelman of Risk Strategies Co. and Ellen Donovan McCann of Unum Group for another webinar.
1. A new paid family leave program in New York state could help you start conversations.
New York state has a paid family leave law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the bill into law, appears likely to contend for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
The scope of the New York state mandate is similar to the scope of the state’s disability insurance program required under the Disability Benefits Law, according to the Risk Strategies-Unum slidedeck.
The program will be phased in. Workers will be eligible to get half of their weekly wage, up to half of the statewide average weekly wage, for up to eight weeks, during the first year of the program. Workers will be able to get two-thirds of their wage, up to two-thirds of the statewide average weekly wage, for up to 12 weeks in the fifth year.
Those parameters mean that an eligible worker who earns about $1,300 per week, the current statewide average weekly wage, could get a maximum of about $5,000 in paid leave over eight weeks through the new program in 2018. In 2021, when the program is fully phased in, an eligible worker who earned the statewide average weekly wage or more might be able to get a maximum of about $10,000 in benefits.
Workers in New York will be able to use paid family leave to care for a grandparent, a grandchild or a parent-in-law as well as a child, spouse, parent or domestic partner.
For purposes of using paid leave to care for a loved one, a “serious health condition” could be one that requires inpatient care, but it could also be one that requires “continuous treatment” for at least four days.
Workers can also use paid family leave for a number of other purposes, such as bonding with a newborn or a newly adopted child.
The premium for 2018 will be 0.125% of an employee’s weekly wage, up to the average statewide weekly wage. In effect, that means the maximum 2018 premium is $1.65 per week.
2, Getting permission to use an up-to-date paid family leave program mandate map in your marketing materials might be a good reason to get close to DMEC, and paid-leave experts from Standard.
The Disability Management Employer Coalition is a San Diego-based organization for employers, insurers and disability plan services vendors with an interest disability benefits, absence management services, and related products and services.
Scott and Oliver-Janiak of The Standard created a detailed, up-to-date paid-family-leave adoption map for a DMEC webinar they gave June 22.
The map shows exactly which states were at what stage in terms of implementing, thinking about or not thinking about paid family leave.