Lincoln Absence Advisor

Quick Chat: NY and NJ Update

April 02, 2020 Lincoln Financial Group Season 1 Episode 4
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Quick Chat: NY and NJ Update
Chapters
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Quick Chat: NY and NJ Update
Apr 02, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Lincoln Financial Group

Both federal and state leave programs are being updated and enhanced in response to the COVID-19 situation. In this episode of Lincoln Absence Advisor, Lincoln’s Sarah Montgomery, Assistant Vice President and Senior Counsel for Group Protection and Kim Rudeen, Assistant Vice President of our leave management products, talk about the newest legislation in New York and New Jersey. They define the changes and discuss the impact on both employers and employees, focusing on expanded Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) in NJ and a new paid sick leave program and expanded eligibility for the Disability Benefits Law (DBL) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) in New York. 

 For more information visit: https://www.lfg.com/public/covid-19guidance

LCN-3022656-040120

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Show Notes Transcript

Both federal and state leave programs are being updated and enhanced in response to the COVID-19 situation. In this episode of Lincoln Absence Advisor, Lincoln’s Sarah Montgomery, Assistant Vice President and Senior Counsel for Group Protection and Kim Rudeen, Assistant Vice President of our leave management products, talk about the newest legislation in New York and New Jersey. They define the changes and discuss the impact on both employers and employees, focusing on expanded Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) in NJ and a new paid sick leave program and expanded eligibility for the Disability Benefits Law (DBL) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) in New York. 

 For more information visit: https://www.lfg.com/public/covid-19guidance

LCN-3022656-040120

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Karen Batson:

Hi everyone. I'm Karen Batson, Marketing Manager for Leave and Disability here at Lincoln Financial Group. We get a lot of questions on federal and state leave programs and with the current shifts in certain programs to help with Coronavirus relief, changes and information are coming out rapidly. So we are committing some of our podcast episodes to define the changes and discuss a little bit of the impacts to employers. With that in mind, my colleagues at Lincoln Financial, Sarah Montgomery, Assistant Vice President and Senior Counsel for Group Protection and Kim Rudeen, Assistant Vice President of our Leave Management products jumped on a quick call to discuss the new legislation in New Jersey and New York. Welcome ladies. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Karen Batson:

We are getting a lot of requests for information on what's going on in various states. They're making changes to their leave programs. How does that apply to the employer? How does it support the employee? So I thought we'd just get together and have a quick chat and maybe dive into some of these states. I'm thinking maybe we start with New Jersey since some news came in last week. So what can you tell us what's going on with that program?

Sarah Montgomery:

So thanks everybody for being with us again and thank you for taking the time to listen to our podcast as we try to keep you updated in as close to real time as we can get developments. In response to the Coronavirus epidemic. So we had some developments last week in New Jersey where the governor signed and expanded TDI and FLI expansion bill that allows for COVID related claims under New Jersey, Temporary Disability Insurance and New Jersey Family Leave Insurance to include reasons related to COVID-19 to be taken under the program.

Sarah Montgomery:

The biggest development that we've seen there is that on the TDI side is that the one week elimination period for benefits has been waived. So claims related to COVID-19 will be payable beginning on day one. Again, with any of these leaves related to COVID-19 we're seeing New Jersey does still require medical certification to be provided by a physician or an individualized order from a public health official. So there is documentation that is required. But, um, the good news is is that these programs have been expanded to allow more people to be able to avail themselves of these benefits for COVID-19 related illnesses, exposures, and in some cases isolate isolation requirements.

Karen Batson:

So does this take effect immediately like we saw in New York or is there a date?

Sarah Montgomery:

They will take effect immediately and we are working quickly to put the changes in place in our claim system to be able to start processing these claims.

Sarah Montgomery:

One, you know, is with all of these programs, a lot of questions operationally are raised by exactly how to implement these changes. And we are expecting more guidance from the New Jersey Department of Labor and workforce development to come out in the next few days as they have pledged to be as quickly reacting to these changes as New York and the federal government have been an issuing guidance.

Karen Batson:

We've been including a bunch of updates in our ongoing communications. Right. Giving people kind of some details as we learned them on these various legislations.

Sarah Montgomery:

Yeah.

Karen Batson:

So what, what are things that employers might need to keep in mind with what's going on in New Jersey? Any impacts that we can discuss there?

Sarah Montgomery:

Kim, is there anything you want to bring up as far as what you've seen cause this follows California?

Kim Rudeen:

Yeah. One of the things that my team is spending a lot of time on is, you know, we take the information that Sarah and her team give us around what the changes are to the law and then we look at the impact that that has to our products and to the broader offering, which includes the service. We have spent a lot of time really trying to look at things from the employee and the employer perspective so that we can understand, you know, to Sarah's point, how do we become operationally ready and a lot of really questions and confusion are arising, you know, from employers. Because, you know, if you look at an employer who is dealing with, you know, multiple locations across the country, they're being hit by a number of different laws that have different requirements depending on which state they're in.

Kim Rudeen:

So we're getting questions around things like, well how is this going to coordinate that with the requirements that I may be required to follow under maybe the federal law or something that I'm already doing in house. So that's really the challenge that we're having right now is looking at from an operational readiness perspective, how do we meet the compliance of the new programs very quickly because they all seem to be effective within either immediate or like a very short timeframe. And then, you know, what is the impact to employers and their process? Because the way that we process our claims will in turn impact the way they process payroll or other, you know, sick programs or things that they have that really kind of are intended to either maybe provide most of the benefits or part of the benefits. So it's been very challenging for employers to try to understand what's responsible or what they are responsible for here really. In some cases, we're getting questions about things like are there notice requirements that they have to follow? So just like we have a lot of scrambling to do really when one of these flaws passes on an immediate basis to try to impact, you know, what's the impact of the product, what's the impact to our service, our systems, and the knowledge that we need to share with our people? Employers are going through that same thing with their systems, their communications and their processes internally.

Karen Batson:

And we've been keeping our customers in-line through those same communications as we've figured out operations I assume to let them know as we've figured things out.

Kim Rudeen:

Absolutely.

Karen Batson:

We haven't had a chance to really talk about New York on this podcast. What has New York instituted? Is it similar to what we've just seen in New Jersey? And I know that's been in effect for a couple of weeks now. Right?

Sarah Montgomery:

So New York took a slightly different approach than New Jersey. The law was enacted last week and it really focuses implementing a new Paid Sick Leave program for COVID related needs for paid sick leave and in certain cases expands eligibility for DBL and PFL. The biggest thing to remember about the New York program is that the requirements are based on the size of the employer. So for employers with a hundred or more employees, they are required to provide 14 days of paid sick leave to their employees in New York.

Sarah Montgomery:

The definition and how they're determining employer size is based on an employer's national population, not just the number of employees they have in the state of New York. And this was done as really as an effort from what we understand as the bill was being drafted. What we heard from legislative council in New York was that they really were trying to create a program that would help provide relief for small and medium sized business owners in New York. So, um, as I said, the employers with more than a hundred employees must provide 14 days of sick leave. There are two groups of employers who have to provide five days of paid sick leave and after those five paid sick days are exhausted, their employees will be eligible to apply for expanded DBL and PFL under the new law. Those two employer size groups are employers with one to 10 employees and over a million dollars in net income and employers with 11 to 99 employees.

Sarah Montgomery:

So it's really impacts those two discrete groups of employers. The third group of employers that are impacted under this law are employers with under 10 employees and less than a million dollars in net income. For that group of employers, they are not required to provide paid sick, so they have an only have to provide unpaid sick leave to their employees, but their employees are eligible to apply for enhanced DBL and PFL under the new law. So again, the things to really remember about the New York law are, um, the requirements are based on employer size and that's the national count of employees, not just the number of New York. This leave type is only available to people who are under an individualized quarantine order that's been issued by department of health. So again, the documentation requirements for this type of leave will include producing a copy of an individualized order from a department of health that would be the local or state.

Sarah Montgomery:

It does not cover people who are asymptomatic or not yet diagnosed with COVID-19 and who can work from home. I understand there's a lot in this discussion, so again, we are providing more FAQ's and clarifications on our website, through our COVID-19 hub. The state has been really, really good, they've been partnering very closely with industry and carriers to provide guidance on their website, which we will also provide a link to through our website so employers can find more kind of detailed FAQ since this is kind of a very unique program from what we're seeing as it provides benefits on two different size employers. Basically the paid sick leave is mostly an employer provided benefit. So again, check our website for more resources on how to find answers and clarifications on this program.

Karen Batson:

So you mentioned employee size, so does New Jersey not have any employee size requirements on the program changes they've had?

Sarah Montgomery:

No, not that are analogous to what's going on in New York. So if you have, if you're currently providing temporary disability insurance to your employees, which is required in New Jersey, you will have to make changes across your entire employee population.

Karen Batson:

With these changes, are they temporary changes to legislation? Like do they carry out through the rest of this year or further than that?

Sarah Montgomery:

We haven't seen in these bills specific expiration dates in the same way that the federal legislation provided end dates at the end of this year. As the Corona Pandemic evolves, we may see more guidance on end dates for the New York and New Jersey program than we have in the federal law, which was, you know, the expiration dates in the federal law we're listed in.

Karen Batson:

It makes sense. Now I'm on these two States. Are there any questions that you guys are being asked that you'd want us to address on this podcast that we maybe haven't defined yet?

Sarah Montgomery:

Kim, what do you think? We've been lots and lots of questions.

Karen Batson:

Can we narrow that down? We don't have all day, right? We can't answer all the questions.

Kim Rudeen:

Right. I'm thinking through some of the questions we've gotten and, and really, I mean I think, you know, I'm particularly in New York did a good job. They put up a lot of information that was available for public consumption right away. It gets about 85%, right of things answered. So it's, as we get more into the details and the different potential claim scenarios that can occur, that's really where the questions are coming in. And it's impossible, you know, to be able to kind of give guidance on all of that up front. But for us, you know, it's figuring out, you know, how do we make sure that, we can quickly service the claims so that the employee is not waiting because we don't want to be the hold up and in somebody getting benefits that are much needed at a time like this.

Karen Batson:

Absolutely. Well, thank you both for joining today and us having this quick chat on what's going on. I know we're going to chat again next week. Maybe we'll talk more about New Jersey, New York or something else will happen. So thank you very much.

Sarah Montgomery:

Thank you.

Kim Rudeen:

Thank you.

Karen Batson:

To everyone listening, thank you for joining us. We will continue to cover topics that help employers and their employees navigate through this new environment. So be sure to subscribe to Lincoln Absence Advisor on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclosures:

Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates, the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lincoln Life and Annuity Company of New York, Syracuse, New York, and Lincoln Life Insurance Company of Boston, Dover. New Hampshire affiliates are separately responsible for their own financial and contractual obligations.