Successful Paid Leave Programs Take All of Us

Sep 14, 2023

During meetings with Congressional leaders, insurance companies are often asked what lessons we have learned working alongside state regulators to implement paid family and medical leave (PFML) programs in the states. Insurers are the only stakeholders with experience working with regulators in each of the eight states that recently enacted PFML programs. We have first-hand knowledge of the best practices that can help ensure a smooth and successful roll out of a PFML program. 

Which best practice is most important? A state’s willingness to regularly communicate and closely collaborate with stakeholders to align state and private plan administrative processes. 

Maryland is a great example. It is getting off to a great start with its PFML program, thanks to open communication between state regulators and stakeholders, including insurers. The state’s Department of Labor has been holding regulatory engagement sessions led by discussion guides. This approach allows for an open exchange of ideas as regulations are developed. 

Because of our depth of experience implementing new PFML programs, insurance companies have been providing valuable information on what has worked well and what has created challenges in other states. For example, close collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (DFML) resulted in a streamlined process for employers to apply for private plan approval. By working together, the DFML and insurers were able to identify “pain points” that made leave administration difficult for employers and created solutions to address them. 

These are just a few of many examples. The lesson we have repeatedly learned is that open communication, respectful consideration of different perspectives, and collaboration are the keys to success in launching a PFML program. Insurance companies will work closely with regulators in Minnesota and Maine as they embark on their PFML implementation journeys. We also continue to support the work of the U.S. Congress, including the House Bipartisan Working Group on Paid Leave and their Senate counterparts to explore new ways to expand access to PFML benefits across the nation.

Daris Freeman

Daris Freeman is Assistant Vice President and Legal Counsel at Unum.