A number of states require the employer to give employees unpaid time off to attend school events such as parent-teacher conferences and classroom events. This includes California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont — all have school visitation laws.
The Colorado Academic Activities Leave Law applies to employers with 50 or more workers. It permits the parent or guardian of a K-12 student to take off 6 hours per month in increments of up to 3 hours each, up to a total of 18 hours per academic year. Paid leave may be substituted for the unpaid school visitation leave, but the law does not apply to supervisory employees.
Illinois provides for parents and guardians to take up to 8 hours of unpaid leave
Whether you’re a father or a mother, there’s a good chance you’re also a wage or salary earner.
Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, then, may be a good time to take a look at the program designed to help you during those times when you must take the emphasis off work and put it directly on your family.
The Colorado FMLA law is the program offering you the support you need for critical times. Those times could be good – the birth of a child, an adoption, receiving a foster child into the home. They could be difficult – a loved one being in an accident requiring a hospital stay or rehab, or a serious illness in your immediate family. In either case, the program allows you up to 12 weeks of leave (unpaid) if you fall under the allowable circumstances. If you work for a private business, your employer is obliged to follow the Family and Medical Leave Act if the workplace employs 50 or more people. Pubic employees and teachers are eligible even if staff sizes are smaller than 50.
Unpaid leave raises complications around medical coverage. Normally, your workplace coverage would be paid for by payroll deductions. But when you’re on unpaid leave, where does that premium money come from? The answer is, your employer is likely to consider it an advance on a future paycheck. When you return, you’ll find the cost of your medical coverage premium appearing as a deduction from your wages. You and your employer should sit down and sign an agreement to avoid misunderstandings that could arise as a result of this legal issue.
Under Colorado FMLA you and your employer must follow certain guidelines. For example, the employer must keep you informed. He or she must provide you with a notification in writing immediately, letting you know how to keep in touch to insure you maintain your good status with the workplace. You in turn must respond to those instructions promptly. The Colorado FMLA poster should be prominent at every jobsite.
As an employer, you may have questions about how a recent ruling will impact Colorado employee benefit plans. This ruling was issued by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, also known as EBSA. EBSA is a federal agency, and its role is to monitor pension and health insurance law compliance by businesses. Most businesses are covered by EBSA.
The recent ruling pertains to how group health insurance plans handle benefits for mental health treatments. Although this ruling was released quietly, it can have a significant impact. The ruling pertains to the Mental Health Parity Act, also known as MHPA. This act was extended through the end of 2007. MHPA became a law originally in 1996. At the time, it was to expire at the end of September, 2001. Instead of expiring, though, the law has been extended 5 times.
This law requires that group health insurance plans place the same limits on mental health coverage that they place on other medical treatments. Insurance companies used to be able to set a maximum lifetime benefit for medical treatments and surgery at one amount and then set a lifetime benefit maximum for mental health treatments at a lower amount. MHPA requires that these amounts be the same.
For instance, if a group health insurance plan has a lifetime maximum benefit for surgery or other medical treatments of $250,000, the lifetime maximum benefit for mental health treatments also has to be $250,000. This rule also applies to the benefit amounts allowed per year. The coverage amount allowed for medical treatments must be the same as the amount allowed for mental health treatments.
The mental health treatments covered by the heath insurance plan can include stays in a drug or alcohol rehab and stays in mental hospitals for illness such as schizophrenia or depression. Visits to psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed therapists are also included.
Mental health has been put on a par with other medical conditions.
This will have effects across the board for employees covered by Colorado employee benefit plans.
Groups health insurance plans can no longer put a limit on mental health treatments that are far lower than those put on other medical treatments.
This is because the Mental Health Parity Act, also known as the MHPA, has been extended through December 31, 2007 under a law signed by the president.
A sunset clause that was included in the original bill allowed the bill to expire on Sept 31, 2001. But due to amendments, 5 times in all, the expiration date has been extended.
Before the Mental Health Parity Act, employees could expect limits on medical treatments up to $100,000 or more per year. But if an employee found themselves in need of treatment for a mental health problem, they would have found that the limits might be as low as $5,000 – $10,000, or even lower.
The Mental Health Parity Act now makes this illegal. This law means that mental health must be funded in the same way and to the same limits as other medical conditions.
What can these new funding limits be used for?
They can be used for all manner of mental health treatments. These might include time spent in rehab clinics for alcohol or drug related dependency, or regular visits to a psychologist, psychiatrist or other licensed therapists.
If you have to stay in hospital to be treated for depression or mental health ailments these will be covered too. These might include schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Mental Health Parity Act will have a far reaching effect on workers throughout the United States. There are over 150 million workers throughout the US that are covered by group health insurance plans. The law means that they no longer have to struggle with obtaining treatment due to cost.
In one of his first acts as Governor, Bill Ritter clarified the Colorado employee benefits for state employees. In particular, Ritter documented policies for tracking and limiting annual and sick leave by department heads.
In the past, there had been some allegations that certain department heads misused their Colorado employee benefits. Some were allegedly out of the office more than they were in it. This was controversial in part because there was no formal tracking system to determine how much leave a department head had taken.
Gov. Bill Ritter recently signed an executive order establishing a fair and clear policy regarding the accrual, capping and tracking of annual and sick leave for department heads.
“This executive order sets forth clear and equitable guidelines for leave accrual, removing any ambiguities and placing the executive directors on equal footing with other state employees,” Gov. Ritter said. “These rules are fair and they protect taxpayer dollars.”
The order allows the 15 executive directors who head state departments to accrue 13.33 annual leave hours per month, or 20 days per year. Translated into workdays, that gives each department about a month to spend trout fishing, lying on the beach in Cozumel or pounding the cobblestones in Italy, as he or she prefers.
The recent executive order also allows for the accrual of 6.66 hours of sick leave per month, or 10 days per year.
The order also caps the amount of leave that a director can accrue without using it. For executive directors with fewer than five years of total Colorado state government service, the maximum accrual of annual leave is 192 hours (24 days). For those with five or more years of service, the maximum accrual is 240 hours (30 days). Once a state executive accrues that amount of leave, he or she will have to use additional leave by July 1 of each year, or lose it.
As far as sick time goes, the maximum accrual under the new policy for any executive director is 360 hours (45 days). This is true regardless of the number of years the executive director has served. Again, sick leave in excess of that amount will be forfeited each year on July 1.
The executive order requires department heads to track their annual and sick leave and report it in writing to the governor’s chief of staff. Records will be reconciled at least once a year.