5 Things Nannies and other Domestic Workers (and those who employ them) should know about FAMLI

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Colorado’s new Family and Medical Leave insurance program (FAMLI) is going to help a lot of folks who haven’t historically had access to benefits like paid leave.

That’s because workers will be eligible to access paid leave even if they work alone for a sole employer or in a domestic setting. Here are 5 Things nannies, babysitters and other domestic workers should know about FAMLI:

1. It doesn’t matter if you are the only employee in the household.
FAMLI benefits will become available in 2024 for all employees, even those who work alone. Though employers with fewer than 10 employees aren’t responsible for sending employer premiums, they are still required to deduct and remit the employee’s share of the premiums to the FAMLI Division every quarter even if they have just one employee. Alternatively, they can choose to cover the 0.45% premium on behalf of that one employee. That one employee will see the 0.45% deducted from their pay in 2023 and will have access to paid family leave once benefits become available in 2024.

2. How do I participate?
Let’s say you need to take time away from work for a life event such as welcoming a new child, caring for yourself or a family member facing a serious medical event, or preparing for a loved one’s military deployment.

Your employer will be responsible for getting those 0.45% payments to the FAMLI Division at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment starting in 2023. (They can find out how to do that here.) There’s nothing else you need to do to participate until the need arises to apply for FAMLI benefit payments starting in 2024. At that time, you’ll submit a claim directly with the State similarly to how unemployment insurance claims are submitted.

3. I’m a Form 1099 contractor, not an employee. Am I covered?
Yes, but your participation is not required! 

As an independent contractor or self-employed individual, you’ll have to agree to pay 0.45% of your wages for three years in order to access FAMLI benefits for those life events. First you’ll want to review the IRS Household Employer’s Tax Guide to make sure you’re properly classified as a contractor. Assuming your employer has some say over your performance on the job, such as caring for their children, you’re probably an employee and not a contractor. 

The IRS says that domestic employees can include:

  • Babysitters
  • Butlers
  • Caretakers
  • Cooks
  • Domestic workers
  • Drivers
  • Health aides
  • House Cleaning workers
  • Housekeepers
  • Maids
  • Nannies
  • Private nurses
  • Yard workers

So you should talk with your employer to clear up your employment status to confirm if you are a contractor or an employee.

If you truly are an independent contractor, you can still self-elect to participate in FAMLI. In that case, you must agree to participate by paying premiums and reporting your income for a minimum of three years in order to avoid opting in only when the need for leave is foreseeable. Find out more about FAMLI rules for independent contractors and self-employed workers here.

4. Employer-provided housing doesn’t count toward your wage.
Again, the IRS decides what counts as wages for domestic workers, not the FAMLI Division. To quote the IRS guidance to domestic employers, “Cash wages don't include the value of food, lodging, clothing, transit passes, and other noncash items you give your household employee. However, cash you give your employee in place of these items is included in cash wages.” 

5. You can’t be fired for taking FAMLI leave.
Assuming you are a domestic employee and not a true independent contractor, FAMLI offers paid job-protected leave once you’ve been at your employer for more than 180 days (about six months). The law also offers protection against retaliation. 

Colorado’s FAMLI Division will be rolling out a variety of tools this year to help everyone understand how to access paid-leave benefits in 2024. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you hear about our webinars, public meetings and other tools to help prepare. 

And let us know what questions you have about paid family and medical leave. Call us Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at 1-866-CO-FAMLI (1-866-263-2654) or drop us a line at cdle_famli_info@state.co.us to ask your questions.


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