With all the talk about new-eligibility rules, remember this: Some states set their own rules that may contradict federal law. In such cases, you must follow whichever law is more generous to employees. The 18 states that stray, or have the legal ability to stray, from federal law include: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. To check your state law, visit the state labor department Web site. Find the site at www.dol.gov/esa/contacts/state_of.htm.