Between state and local mandates, and the coronavirus pandemic, more employers must provide workers with paid sick and family leave. These initiatives are meant to be beneficial – but they’re full of red tape and confusion.
That’s according to the ERISA Industry Committee’s (ERIC’s) latest survey of large employers.
For many employers that offer these benefits to employees voluntarily, the near-constant changes to paid leave laws are burdensome, especially to multistate employers.
And they contribute to increased costs. Reason: Companies must implement measures to track their compliance with these laws. This can include new systems or more manpower.
Paid leave benefits v. mandates
Most large employers are already ahead of the game when it comes to providing paid leave benefits.
In fact, of those surveyed by ERIC, 65% offer paid family leave to employees to take care of seriously ill family members. And 90% provide paid parental leave.
Plus, all employers that responded offer workers both short-term and long-term disability leave for serious personal health issues.
Problems arise when companies that already offer generous benefits have to navigate competing local laws with different guidelines.
Paid sick and medical leave that meets the requirements for one mandate may not cut it for another. So employers often find themselves having to offer different benefits to workers based on their locations.
Employers are also left with less flexibility to provide benefits that fit their employees’ needs since they have to work within the constraints of these laws.
Ultimately, the time and money employers spend on putting systems in place to be compliant with these laws could be better spent on actually providing workers with the benefits they need, ERIC said.
A solution to these issues would be simple. Currently, the federal government is looking at establishing a national paid leave policy.
If Congress decides to do so, ERIC said, it should also consider exempting employers from stringent state and local requirements through some sort of safe harbor law if they’re providing workers with certain benefits. We’ll keep you posted.