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How Paid Sick Leave Laws Apply to Household Employment


Several states and cities have enacted – or plan to put in place – paid sick leave laws. These programs often cover all employers – even those with only one worker including families with a nanny, senior caregiver, housekeeper, or others who work in their homes.

Additional states have required paid leave for pandemic-related reasons like quarantining if you are sick, caring for someone who is ill, and getting vaccinated. The health crisis may even speed up the adoption of paid sick leave programs to cover those most vulnerable.

Let’s take a look at what is relevant for household employers and how you can comply with paid sick leave laws.

Paid leave laws by state

Here is an overview of some of the existing state paid leave regulations. Be sure to check your state and city labor department websites for the specific rules you need to follow.

California

Workers can take up to six weeks of partial pay to care for a seriously ill family member, bond with a new child, or participate in a family member’s military deployment to a foreign country. Learn more about California's Paid Family Leave.

In addition, all employees who work 30 or more days within a year must be given at least 24 hours of paid sick leave annually.

Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco are California cities that also have paid sick leave laws.

Colorado

Paid family and medical leave in Colorado is funded by contributions from employees (employers with less than 10 workers are exempt from employer share). Remittances begin on January 1, 2023, with paid leave available to employees on January 1, 2024. Workers can take leave for the care of a new child, their own or a family member’s serious health condition, reasons related to their own or a family member’s active duty service, and the need for safe leave resulting from domestic violence or sexual assault or abuse. Learn more about Colorado paid family and medical leave.

Connecticut

Employees can start taking benefits under the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program beginning in January 2022 for life events like the worker’s own serious health concern; care for a child after birth, adoption, or foster placement; and care to a seriously ill or injured family member; among other reasons. Starting in 2021, household employers need to make payroll deductions and remit their worker’s contributions to the state on their behalf. Learn more about Connecticut's PFML program.

Massachusetts

Beginning this year, employees are eligible to use paid family and medical leave benefits including for their own or a family member’s serious medical condition; bonding with a newborn, adopted, or foster-care child; and other reasons related to military service. While families are exempt from the employer portion of PFML contributions, they must still remit their employee’s share to the state. Learn more about Massachusetts' PFML program.

New Jersey

Under the state’s paid sick leave law, workers can take time off for their own care or that of a family member. The benefits can also be taken if the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence. Learn more about New Jersey's paid sick leave.

New York

Beginning this year, employees can start using paid or unpaid sick leave for certain designated purposes under the state’s paid sick leave law. Time off can be used for treatment, care, preventative care, and diagnosis for an employee’s or employee’s family member’s illness, injury, or health condition. Learn more about New York's paid sick leave.

Families in New York City should review the details of the Paid Safe and Sick Time Act, which requires sick leave to be paid for household employees.

New York also has a paid family leave (PFL) program that provides paid time off to workers for reasons like bonding with a newborn, adopted, or foster-care child; care for a seriously ill family member; and addressing important needs related to a family member’s military service. The program is paid for by employees through an additional payroll deduction. Learn more about New York PFL.

Oregon

In Oregon, sick time is protected but unpaid if the employer has less than 10 employees (or less than six if you are in Portland). A worker can take up to 40 hours of leave in a year to care for themselves or family members. Learn more about Oregon's sick.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island requires employers with fewer than 18 workers to offer sick and safe leave time, although it does not need to be paid. Employees can take up to 40 hours of leave in a year. Time off can be taken for their own or a family member’s illness or injury or to deal with the impact of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Learn more about Rhode Island's Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act.

Washington

Workers can take paid leave for their own serious health condition, care for a family member, bond with a new child, or spend time with a family member preparing for military service overseas. As an employer, you are required to collect and remit your employee’s premiums. There is no employer contribution if you have less than 50 workers. Learn more about Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave.

Washington, D.C.

Employees in our nation’s capital can use benefits under the Universal Paid Leave Act to bond with a new child, care for an ill family member, and take leave for their own medical care. Employers fund the program through a payroll tax on their employee’s gross wages. Workers do not contribute to paid leave. Learn more about Washington, D.C.'s Universal Paid Leave.

Federal paid leave laws

While household employers are not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they can voluntarily offer paid leave for pandemic-related reasons under the American Rescue Plan.

The American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan extends voluntary pandemic-related paid sick and family leave through September 30 with a dollar-for-dollar tax credit remaining in effect. The law also resets the amount of time available to employees. If a worker previously took their allotted leave, families could still provide additional time off. Learn more about the American Rescue Plan's paid leave provisions.

State and local COVID-19 laws

While the American Rescue Plan continues voluntary paid leave, states and cities may require it of household employers. Download a guide on state and local paid sick leave laws (PDF) to get updated on your obligations.

Reported with permission from GTM (www.gtm.com)