SB 162 - This act creates the Missouri Earned Family and Medical Leave Program.
Under this act, all employees who are not independent contractors are eligible to receive up to six weeks each year of wage replacement benefits for any of the following reasons:
• To bond with a minor child within the first year of birth or placement in connection with foster care or adoption;
• To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
• To tend to one's own serious health condition; or
• To assume any familial responsibility because a spouse, child, or parent of an employee is on, or has been notified of, an impending call to active duty in the armed forces.
The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is responsible for administering the program.
An employee is eligible for benefits equal to 100% of his or her average weekly pay for each full week taken for family or medical leave. However, an employee's average weekly wage may not be higher than the average state weekly wage. An employee may take partial weeks of leave but will only receive benefits equal to the fraction of the number of days of leave taken divided by the number of the days that the employee would have otherwise worked. An employee may additionally only take leave in full day increments.
APPLYING FOR BENEFITS
An employee has 41 days following the first day on which he or she begins to take family or medical leave to file a claim for benefits with the Department. Furthermore, an employee may not receive benefits until they have contributed to the Missouri Earned Family and Medical Leave Fund for at least 52 weeks.
An employee may not receive benefits on any day for which they are eligible to receive unemployment or workers' compensation benefits. Leave taken under this act must be taken concurrently with leave taken under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.
Each employee applying for benefits shall show, on a certificate provided by the Department, that he or she is entitled to family or medical leave.
An employee seeking to take leave under this act shall provide at least 30 days notice to their employer if the reason for leave is foreseeable. If it is not foreseeable, notice shall be given as soon as practicable.
APPEALING DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY
Employees are entitled to appeal a determination of eligibility by the Department to the Administrative Hearing Commission. A notice of appeal shall be sent to the Commission within 30 days of the receipt of the determination by the employee. A decision by the Commission may be appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction.
An employee is not entitled to appeal a determination of the amount of benefits received but may request a redetermination by the Department within one year of the initial determination. The Department may initiate its own redetermination under certain circumstances within two years following an employee's filing of a claim.
UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY ACTIONS
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because he or she filed a claim for, indicated an intent to file a claim for, or have received Missouri earned family and medical leave benefits. Courts hearing such complaints may grant injunctive, equitable, or compensatory relief to employees. Complaints may be filed by either the employee or the Department. In the event that the Department files a complaint, the employee is thereafter barred from bringing his or her own action. In any event, a discrimination claim shall be brought within three years.
OUTREACH AND REPORTS
The Department is required to develop and implement an outreach program to make employees aware of their rights, duties, and responsibilities under this act.
The State Auditor is required to complete an audit of the program no later than 3 years following the passage of the act.
MISSOURI EARNED FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE FUND
The Missouri Earned Family and Medical Leave Fund is created. An employee is required to contribute .025% of his or her average weekly pay to the fund, provided that the total wages used to compute the contribution rate shall not exceed the contribution and benefit base used to calculate Social Security taxes. If, at the discretion of the Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, there is not a sufficient amount of funds in the fund to satisfy all claims, the director is permitted to reduce the benefit amount each employee will receive.
Contributions to the program may begin January 1, 2021, but no employee may receive benefits until January 1, 2022. All employee contributions are pre-tax and not considered part of the adjusted gross income.
The act contains a referendum clause to be presented to the voters at the 2020 general election.
This act is substantially similar to HB 881 (2019), SB 607 (2018), HB 1956 (2018), SB 69 (2017), HB 659 (2017), SCS/SB 291 (2017), HB 1059 (2017), and SB 1049 (2016), and similar in concept to SB 54 (2017), SB 983 (2016), and HB 1161 (2015).