The New Hampshire Paid Family and Medical Leave (NH PFML) Plan, otherwise known as the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan, is the nation’s first and only voluntary, state-sponsored paid leave plan. Eligible New Hampshire employers (public employers and private employers with more than fifty employees) and eligible employees are entitled to opt in to the NH PFML insurance plan. (State employees are entitled to paid family leave only.) NH PFML provides covered employees with up to 60 percent of their average weekly wages, up to the Social Security wage maximum, for up to six weeks per year, plus a seven-calendar day unpaid elimination period per year, for absences from work for covered events. Covered events include:
- the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a newborn or newly adopted or fostered child for the first year;
- care for an employee’s spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition;
- care for a spouse, child, or parent in the military;
- military exigency; and
- a personal serious health condition that is independent of employment, if the employer does not offer short-term disability insurance.
Employees may take continuous or intermittent leave with a minimum of four-hour increments. Employers opting in to the program are required to participate in payroll deductions and continue employee health insurance coverage during leave. Employers with fifty or more workers that provide NH PFML to their employees are required to return employees taking leave to the position held prior to such leave, or to an equivalent position pursuant to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Family and Medical Leave Insurance under N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 275:37-d.
What options do employers have under the NH PFML?
Employers that 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 enterprise tax (BET) credit of up to 50 percent of their premium payments. Granite State employers have several options to consider, including whether to fully fund the premium costs for employees, split the premium costs with their employees, or pass the full premium costs on to employees. While the New Hampshire Insurance Department’s regulations allow other insurance companies to seek approval to provide paid family and medical leave benefit plans, employers that purchase other paid family and medical leave insurance plans or employer equivalent coverage will not qualify for the BET credit.
The NH PFML plan is still evolving and there is lingering uncertainty about its implementation. Some sources suggest that employers will have the option to offer six or twelve weeks of paid leave, and others suggest only six weeks. The option for twelve weeks would apply only to employers providing group insurance, if at all. Individual plans and state employees are entitled to six weeks only, plus a seven-calendar day unpaid elimination period.
What options do employees have under the NH PFML?
Eligible employees may purchase NH PFML for themselves if their employers do not provide NH PFML insurance or an equivalent benefit. The NH PFML individual insurance plan provides employees with six weeks of 60 percent wage replacement, 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 submitting claims and must exhaust a seven-calendar-day unpaid period once per benefit period before benefits may be paid.
When does enrollment begin?
The enrollment period for employers begins on December 1, 2022, and will remain open. For individual plans, the enrollment period begins on January 1, 2023, and will remain open through March 2, 2023.
This is the first voluntary state paid family and medical leave plan in the nation, allowing employees who wish to participate to seek paid state leave without mandating premium payments for employees who opt out. Employers may participate and offer at least six weeks of paid leave. If employers elect not to participate in the NH PFML plan, employees may purchase individual insurance plans that provide six weeks of paid leave, subject to a seven-month waiting period. Enrollment begins for employers on December 1, 2022, and will be available on an ongoing basis. Employee enrollment begins January 1, 2023, and runs through March 2, 2023.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on guidance with respect to the NH PFML plan and will post updates on the firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation, Leaves of Absence, and New Hampshire blogs as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.