Temporary Disability Benefits; Family Members
Expands temporary disability benefits to provide up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits to employees who leave work to care for family members with a serious health condition.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2003
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
relating to temporary disability benefits to care for family members with a serious health CONDITION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that family responsibilities of Hawaii workers can impact upon their work place responsibilities. For many individuals, maintaining a balance between the two responsibilities is very challenging.
Over the last twenty-five years, women have entered the work force in record numbers, making up 59.1 per cent of Hawaii's workforce in 2000. Hawaii also has a very high rate of two wage earner families, resulting in there being no one at home to care for sick children, spouses, or aging parents—a role historically assumed by women.
State and federal family leave laws were enacted to help workers balance the sometimes conflicting demands of family and the work place, attempting to address both employee and employer concerns. While both Hawaii's family leave law, codified in chapter 398, Hawaii Revised Statutes, and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 do, in fact, provide job protection for employees who take leave to care for family members with a serious health condition or for other acceptable family leave purposes, both laws guarantee only unpaid leave. As a result, employees often face a difficult dilemma when a family member becomes seriously ill.
For example, the American Cancer Society estimates that four thousand seven hundred new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Hawaii in 2002, not counting basal and squamous cell skin cancers and in situ carcinomas. Although treatment options vary depending on the stage and type of cancer, it is estimated that an average of six months to one year is required to address a major medical illness. Other serious conditions that may require an employee to take family medical leave to care for an ill family member include arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and physical inactivity and obesity.
Many workers simply cannot afford to take unpaid family leave and lose their income, particularly in Hawaii where the cost of living is so high. The lack of wage replacement is particularly critical when the "family member with a serious health condition" is the family's primary wage earner at the peak of his or her earning capacity, most likely the spouse or reciprocal beneficiary of the employee who needs to take family leave. In such a case, unpaid family medical leave causes a second interruption in family income. Moreover, when workers receive no wage replacement during family leave, families suffer from the employee's loss of income, thereby increasing the demand on the state unemployment insurance system and dependence on the state's welfare system.
The legislature further finds that the need for partial wage replacement benefits that allow an employee to care for a family member with a serious health condition is perhaps more important in Hawaii than in any other state. We have the longest life expectancy in the nation, a high rate of two wage earner families, and a workforce that is nearly sixty per cent female. There frequently is no one at home to care for sick family members, and Hawaii's high cost of living makes it difficult to take unpaid family leave.
The legislature finds that it is in the public interest to expand temporary disability insurance benefits to employees who leave work temporarily to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The need to expand temporary disability insurance benefits has intensified as both parents' participation in the workforce has increased and the number of single parents in the workforce has grown. The need for partial wage replacement for workers taking leave to care for sick family members will increase as the population of those needing care, both children and parents of workers, increases in relation to the number of working age adults.
The legislature further finds that developing systems that help families adapt to the competing interest of work and home not only benefits workers, but also benefits employers by increasing worker productivity and reducing employee turnover. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and Hawaii's family leave law entitle eligible employees working for covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for up to twelve work weeks in a twelve month period. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and Hawaii family leave law, unpaid family leave may be taken for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a seriously ill child, spouse or reciprocal beneficiary, or parent of the employee.
State disability insurance benefits currently provide wage replacement for workers who need time off due to their own non-work related injuries, illnesses, or conditions, including pregnancy, that prevent them from working, but do not cover leave to care for a child, spouse or reciprocal beneficiary, or parent with a serious health condition.
The legislature further finds that expanding the temporary disability insurance program to provide disability benefits that allow employees to care for family members with a serious health condition will help reconcile the demands of work and family.
The purpose of this Act is to expand the temporary disability insurance program to provide benefits to employees who are unable to perform their employment duties because they leave work temporarily to care for their family members with a serious health condition
SECTION 2. Section 392-3, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding new definitions to be appropriately inserted and to read as follows:
""Child" means a person who is a: biological, adopted, or foster child; stepchild; or legal ward of the employee.
"Family member" means a child, spouse or reciprocal beneficiary, or the parent of the employee or the employee's spouse.
"Parent" has the same meaning as section 398-1.
"Serious health condition" has the same meaning as section 398-1."
SECTION 3. Section 392-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
§392-2[ ]] Findings and purpose. A large portion of the labor force of this State annually is disabled from pursuing gainful employment by reason of nonoccupational sickness or accident and as a result suffers serious loss of income. In approximately ten per cent of the cases such sickness or accident can be expected to cause disability of more than one week's duration. More than two-fifths of the employees in private employment have either no fixed legal protection against wage loss from disabling nonoccupational sickness or accident, or only protection for a period of one workweek or less; more than one-third of the workers covered by formal sick leave plans are not protected against disability extending beyond two workweeks. Since the hardship for workers and their families mounts with the extension of the duration of the disability from whatever cause, including disability that results from the inability of an employee to perform the duties of the employee's employment because the employee has to care for a family member who has a serious health condition, there is a need to fill the existing gaps in protection and to provide benefits to individuals in current employment that will afford to them reasonable compensation for wage loss caused by disabling nonoccupational sickness or accident where the disability is temporary in nature and exceeds the period of one workweek. This legislation is designed not to impede the growth of voluntary plans which afford additional protection.
This chapter shall be liberally construed in the light of the stated reasons for its enactment and its declared purpose."
SECTION 4. Section 392-3, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the definition of "disability" to read as follows:
"Disability" means total inability of an employee to perform the duties of the employee's employment caused by sickness, pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or accident other than a work injury as defined in section 386-3[
.], and includes inability of an employee to perform the duties of the employee's employment because the employee has to care for a family member who has a serious health condition."
SECTION 5. Section 392-21, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:
"(a) Any individual in current employment who suffers disability resulting from accident, sickness, pregnancy, [
or] termination of pregnancy, or the inability to perform the duties of the employee's employment because the employee has to care for a family member who has a serious health condition, except accident or disease connected with or resulting from employment as defined in section 386-3 or any other applicable workers' compensation law, shall be entitled to receive temporary disability benefits in the amount and manner provided in this chapter."
SECTION 6. Section 392-23, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
§392-23[ ]] Duration of benefit payments. Temporary disability benefits shall be payable for any period of disability following the expiration of the waiting period required in section 392-24.
The duration of benefit payments shall not exceed twenty-six weeks for any period of disability or during any benefit year[
.]; provided that benefits payable due to the employee's inability to perform the duties of the employee's employment because the employee has to care for a family member who has a serious health condition shall not exceed six weeks for the period of disability or during any benefit year."
SECTION 7. Section 392-26, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:
"(a) An individual shall be ineligible to receive temporary disability benefits with respect to any period during which the individual, or the individual's family member if the disability is caused by the employee's caring for a family member with a serious health condition, is not under the care of a person duly licensed to practice medicine, surgery, dentistry, chiropractic, osteopathy, or naturopathy, who shall certify, in the form and manner specified by regulation of the director, the disability of the claimant, the probable duration thereof, and such other medical facts within the person's knowledge as required by regulation."
SECTION 8. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 9. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2003.