The New Hampshire Paid Family and Medical Leave (NH PFML) Plan, also known as the Granite State Paid Family Leave Plan, is the state’s first and only voluntary, state-sponsored paid vacation plan. Eligible New Hampshire employers (public employers and private employers with more than 50 employees) and eligible employees are eligible to elect the NH PFML plan. Government employees are only entitled to paid family leave.
NH PFML grants covered employees up to 60 percent of their average weekly wage, up to the Social Security cap, for up to six weeks per year, plus a seven calendar day unpaid elimination period per year for absences from work for covered events.
Events covered include:
- the birth or adoption of a child or the care of a newborn or newly adopted or foster child during the first year of life.
- Caring for the spouse, child or parent of an employee with a serious medical condition.
- caring for a spouse, child, or parent in the military.
- military necessity.
- a personal serious medical condition unrelated to employment if the employer does not offer short-term disability insurance.
Employees may take uninterrupted or intermittent leave of at least four hours apart. Employers who elect to participate in the program must contribute to payroll deductions and continue health insurance coverage for employees while on leave. Employers with 50 or more employees who grant NH PFML to their employees must restore employees who take leave to the position they held prior to that leave or to an equivalent position under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Family and medical leave insurance under New Hampshire law.
Employers who 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 Tax Credit (BET) of up to 50 percent of their premium payments. Granite State employers must consider several options, including whether to fully fund the cost of premiums to employees, share the cost of premiums with their employees, or pass on the full cost of premiums to employees.
While New Hampshire Department of Insurance regulations allow other insurance companies to apply for approval to provide plans for paid family and sick leave benefits, employers who have other paid family and sick leave insurance plans or employer equivalent coverage do not qualify for the BET credit.
The NH PFML plan is still in development and there is ongoing uncertainty about its implementation. Some sources suggest employers will have the option to offer six or 12 weeks of paid leave, others suggest just six weeks. The 12-week option would only apply, if at all, to employers offering group insurance. Individual plans and government employees are only eligible for six weeks plus an unpaid cut-off period of seven calendar days.
Eligible employees can purchase NH PFML for themselves if their employers do not offer NH PFML insurance or an equivalent benefit. The NH PFML Individual Insurance Plan provides employees with 60 percent wage replacement for six weeks 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 making a claim and must have an unpaid period of seven calendar days once per benefit period before benefits can be paid.
The enrollment period for employers begins on December 1st and remains open. For individual plans, the registration period starts on January 1, 2023 and remains open until March 2, 2023.
The central theses
This is the first voluntary government-paid family and sick leave plan in the country, allowing employees who wish to participate to request paid government leave without requiring bonus payments for employees who choose not to. Employers can participate and offer at least six weeks paid leave. If employers choose not to participate in the NH PFML plan, employees can purchase individual insurance plans that provide six weeks of paid leave subject to a seven-month waiting period.
Aimee B. Parsons is an attorney at Ogletree Deakins in Portland, Maine. Melanie C. Cormier is an attorney at Ogletree Deakins in Boston.© 2022. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.