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  • Summary date: May 6 2024 - View Summary

    Enacts new GS Chapter 96A, to be cited as the "North Carolina Paid Family Leave Insurance Act." Sets forth 15 defined terms applicable to the Chapter. Deems family and medical leave benefits provided under the terms of the Chapter payable beginning July 4, 2024, to covered individuals, defined as any person who submits an application and meets the monetary eligibility criteria set forth in GS 96-14.1(b) (regarding unemployment benefit claims) or is self-employed, elects coverage, and meets the requirements of new GS 96A-13, and meets the administrative requirements of the new Chapter and rules adopted thereunder, who meet one of five requirements, including: (1) is caring for a new child during the first year after birth, adoption, or child placement; (2) is caring for a family member with a serious health condition; (3) has a serious health condition; (4) is caring for a covered service member, as defined, who is the covered individual's next of kin or other family member; and (5) because of any qualifying exigency leave (as defined) arising out of the fact that the family member of the covered individual is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the Armed Forces. Defines family member, next of kin, and serious health condition. Specifies maximum duration of benefits based on eligibility requirement, ranging from 12 weeks to 26 weeks depending on the reason for the leave. Sets out formula for determining the amount of benefit, with the minimum weekly amount set at 20% of the state average weekly wage and the maximum set at 120% of the state average weekly wage. Allows an individual to take family and medical leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.

    Requires a person returning from family and medical leave to be restored (1) to the position they held when the leave commenced or (2) to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions. Requires the employer to maintain health care benefits for an eligible covered individual on family and medical leave on the same terms as if the individual had continued to work.

    Requires the family and medical leave insurance benefits that are paid out to be reduced by the amount the individual receives from a disability or workers’ comp program, a temporary disability program, or another plan providing maternity or parental benefits. Sets out additional conditions under which the benefits are not to be paid or must be reduced due to other coverage.

    Requires a person intending to take family and medical leave to give their employer no less than 30 days’ notice, except when there is an emergency or unforeseen circumstances. Also requires an individual requesting leave for a foreseeable reason to make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. Sets out steps a person must take when requesting the leave for an unforeseeable reason, including providing notice as soon as practicable. Sets out items that must be included in the employee’s notice, including anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Requires the individual to provide written certification from a health care provider when the request is due to a serious health condition, when requested by the employer; sets out required deadlines for such a certification and allows employers to ask for recertification. Sets out items that must be included in the certification. Certifications are confidential. Allows an employer to require the individual to get a second opinion, at the employer’s expense, to be provided by a health care provider not employed by the employer. Allows requiring a third opinion if the first two are different. Provides, however, that if the individual gives the employer a complete and sufficient certification, then the employer may not request a second or third opinion.

    Requires an employer to make, keep, and preserve records on compliance with this Chapter, including records related to the administration of family and medical leave and medical certifications. Sets out eight categories of items that must be included in the records.

    Requires the Division of Employment Security (Division) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) to adopt rules to implement and administer the Chapter. Sets out additional provisions governing the content of these rules and the procedure for their adoption.

    Sets out provisions governing coverage for self-employed individuals.

    Deems an employee on family and medical leave to be on leave status and not considered an employee for the purposes of employee benefits or seniority. Allows the employer to recover the premiums paid by the employer for maintaining health insurance, life insurance, or other benefits plan, if the employee does not return from leave, unless the return is because of: (1) the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition that entitles the employee to leave or (2) other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

    Sets out provisions requiring confidentiality of information received about an employee or covered individual under this Chapter.

    Establishes the Paid Family and Medical Leave Fund (Fund), consisting of contributions collected under this Chapter, interest, gifts or grants, and any other funds appropriated by the NCGA or directed to be credited to the Fund. Requires the Fund to be used to pay family and medical leave insurance benefits and for administration of this Chapter. Specifies that money in the Fund does not revert to the NCGA.

    Establishes civil penalties for several different categories of violations, including failure to remit contributions to the Fund, providing false information, and failure to submit required reports. Penalties are paid into the Fund. Requires the Division to adopt rules to implement and administer these requirements.

    Sets out provisions governing how this Chapter relates to various federal laws.

    Includes a severability clause.

    Effective July 4, 2024.