On June 24, 2021, New Hampshire enacted a paid family medical leave insurance program (FMLI), called the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan. The measure passed as part of the state budget, with a mandate that coverage be available for purchase by January 1, 2023.
The plan provides wage replacement for leave taken for the following reasons:
- The birth of a child or caring for a newborn child for the first year;
- For newly adopted or fostered children within the first year;
- Care for an employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition;
- Care for a spouse, child or parent who is in the military; or
- A personal serious health condition that is independent of employment, if the employer does not offer short-term disability insurance.
Under the plan, workers receive 60% of their average weekly wage for a maximum of six weeks. Employers may require that the leave run concurrently with other employee leave.
The law requires that permanent state employees be covered at no cost; however, participation in the plan is completely voluntary for private employers. Employers with more than 50 employees who sponsor coverage will contract directly with the insurance carrier chosen by the state.
Private employers that opt-in to the program must participate in payroll deductions and provide heightened employment protections, such as continuation of health insurance coverage during leave, as well as protection from discrimination and retaliation for utilizing the leave. Tax credits equal to 50 percent of any premiums paid by the employer are provided to employers who opt-in to the program. To secure coverage, employers must begin the Request for Proposal process no later than March 31, 2022, with coverage being provided by January 1, 2023.
Individuals working for employers that choose not to participate in the program or who do not have an equivalent paid leave program can opt-in to FMLI through the individual pool. Employers will be responsible for remitting the employee’s premium payments to the state via payroll deduction.
Next Steps for Employers
The details of the opt-in program are unique and will require additional guidance and clarification from state. In the interim, private employers should review the available program information to determine whether they want to opt-in. Employers that choose not to offer coverage should remember that employees will be able to opt-in on an individual basis. This will result in the need for employers to develop procedures for being notified by employees of their participation in the program and ensuring they are able to process payroll deductions and remit premium payments to the state.
HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provide updated information as it becomes available.