Episode 21 image

Episode details

HR compliance is more complex than ever, particularly with leave and absence management. In this episode, Daris Freeman and Ellen McCann give an overview of paid leave laws, both pre-pandemic and those being signed into law amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

  • Prior to the pandemic, many states and jurisdictions had existing employer-mandated paid leave laws. 16 states and more than 20 municipalities had laws that applied to a situation where the employee or employee’s family member was ill or seeking care or due to a quarantine or closure. (01:25)
  • States and local jurisdictions have stepped up to provide paid leave for workers due to COVID-related reasons. These fall into two key areas: 1) Protections for employees in organizations with more than 500 employees that are not subject to the federal FFCRA and 2) States, such as California, that have passed broader legislation that applies to all employers and employees. (04:30)
  • States and jurisdictions are passing laws to provide paid leave to those impacted by COVID-19. This is an active space with nearly one new law appearing every week. (05:30)
  • Colorado has passed three laws in one: 1) The federal FFCRA equivalent for 2020 for larger employers and 2) A broader paid leave provision that has two components: a) paid leave for employees or family members who have an illness and school closures, and b) up to two weeks of additional leave if there is a public health emergency. (05:55)
  • There is also an unpaid leave dimension to this, as several states have amended existing laws to provide job protected, unpaid leave. Employers need to understand any applicable unpaid leave obligations, as well as paid leave obligations, to be compliant with all employment laws and regulations. (07:55)
  • Best practices: At Unum we have policies that address state-level paid leave laws where employees work. We have supplemented that with a COVID-19 specific policy that incorporates all the different jurisdictions and states that have specific COVID-19 requirements for leave. (09:57) 
  • Laws change almost weekly. One of your best resources are state and city webpages, as these are always up to date. Consult with your own legal counsel also to make sure you are capturing all the obligations and remain in compliance with all applicable laws. (11:13)

Have an idea for our next podcast?

Email us your suggestion or leave us a message 207-200-6685.
COVID-19 resource center

Stay up to date and informed with the latest company information and helpful links on our COVID-19 resource center.

Leave and absence management

Introducing Unum Total Leave™

Total Leave helps streamline absence management for HR while making leave easy and accessible for employees.

Daris Freeman headshot

Daris Freeman

Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel, Unum's employment law group

As Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel for Unum, Daris’ primary responsibility is to support Unum’s Absence Management Center which administers FMLA, paid leave, ADA and over 200 complementary state laws. Daris partners with the operation and their clients to develop compliant solutions for their unique absence management challenges. Most recently, her time has been dedicated to the paid leave landscape, implementing solutions for customers and working with state agencies on development of their programs.

Ellen McCann headshot

Ellen McCann

Assistant Vice President, Leave Solutions — Unum Group

Ellen McCann serves as a leading expert in applying benefits and benefits technology to power modern solutions to more effective employee leave programs, stronger regulatory compliance and enhanced digital HR transformation. In this role, she combines more than 30 years of employment law experience with practical knowledge of the complexities of leave and accommodation management to help develop and create solutions that enable employers to address the challenges of leave and accommodations. She is an acclaimed national speaker on leave management issues including FMLA and ADA, and is a certified trainer for SHRM and CE credit.

About the host

Clare Morin headshot

Clare Morin

Unum Content Marketing Manager

Clare Morin is the Content Marketing Manager at Unum and a journalist who’s spent the last 20 years interviewing hundreds of thought leaders on topics ranging from wellness to culture, finance, human resources and technology. Born in the UK, raised in Hong Kong and based in the U.S. since 2009, she brings a global outlook to the HR Trends studio.

You may be interested in

September ER Insights Report image


Why employers expect a mental health crisis this fall

Our latest survey reveals how employers across the U.S. are planning amid continued school disruptions, rising mental health concerns, and a critically important benefits enrollment season.
Webinar 8-27-2020
Webinar 8-27-2020


Leave management in a post-pandemic world

As employers update or expand their leave benefits for the new future forged by the coronavirus pandemic, what are the key best practices they should keep in mind? In this webinar, four thought leaders in the benefits and leave management space share their expertise.