This article, written by attorneys Brian Bouchard and Andrea Chatfield, was originally posted on seacaostonline.com and can be found here.
New Hampshire is a first-in-the-nation kind of state. With the primary now in doubt, New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation family medical insurance program has made its debut. Open enrollment for the program – known as NH PFMLI – began on Dec. 1, 2022 for employers and on Jan. 1, 2023 for individuals. Employers can enroll at any time. The annual enrollment period for individual plans will end on March 2, 2023. Though the program is still in its infancy, Vermont recently announced plans to implement a similar paid leave insurance program there. NH PFMLI is available to New Hampshire-based employers, and only for their employees who work in the State. Here are the particulars of New Hampshire’s program.
Program Benefits and Leave: NH PFMLI provides partial wage replacement to participating New Hampshire workers for “family and medical leave.” This term has been defined to mean:
- Birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child in the last 12 months;
- Serious health condition of a family member;
- A qualifying exigency for foreign deployment in the armed services or to care for a service member with a serious condition or illness.
Curiously, the statute does not define “family and medical leave” as including an employee’s own serious health condition for state employees, but it is included in the statutory framework for PFLMI plans available for purchase. Participating employees will receive 60% of their average weekly wage for six or 12 weeks, depending on the insurance plan purchased. Wage replacement is capped, however, at Social Security taxable wage maximum, which for 2023 is $160,200. Like STD and other insurance programs, employees file for wage replacement through their insurance provider, not their employer.
Voluntary participation: Employer participation in the program is entirely voluntary. But for employers who elect to participate, New Hampshire is offering a tax credit against the NH Business Enterprise Tax if the employer sponsors a plan through the state’s designated provider, MetLife, and pays any portion of the premiums. Since participating employers may split the cost of premiums with their employees along any ratio, NH PFMLI creates added flexibility for employers seeking to provide paid family and medical leave benefits.
Special rules for larger employers. The NH FMLI imposes special rules for employers with a total of 50 or more employees no matter where they are located. First, NH RSA 275:37-d provides job protection, including restoration and anti-retaliation provisions, for any employee who receives wage replacement leave under an employer-sponsored plan. Second, employers with 50 or more employees must arrange for employees participating under an individual plan to pay the insurance premiums via payroll deduction.
Employees can purchase individual coverage. Another unique feature of NH PFMLI is the ability of qualified employees to purchase their own individual insurance coverage. This feature is available to New Hampshire employees who work for New Hampshire employers that do not sponsor a NH PFMLI group plan and do not offer equivalent benefits.
Employees may only purchase a six week plan and will be subject to a one-time seven month waiting period. Individuals will have an annual 60 day enrollment period (Jan. 1 to March 2). Pursuant to the law, premiums for individual plans are capped at $5 per week.