Paid Family Leave in New York

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The New York Paid Family Leave (PFL) law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.  It is currently the most generous in the nation.  Employees are eligible for Paid Family Leave after working full-time for their employer for 26 weeks or part-time for 175 days.

In 2018, employees can take up to eight weeks of paid family leave; 2019 and 2020, ten weeks; and, beginning 2021, twelve weeks. The weekly benefit starts at 50% of the employee’s weekly wage, capped at half the New York statewide average weekly wage. The percentage rises to 55% in 2019, 60% in 2020, and 67% in 2021. The current statewide average weekly wage is $1,305.92.

What’s Covered?

  • Maternity & Paternity Leave – Whether you are expecting, fostering or adopting a child
  • Caring for a Loved One – Time spent caring for a loved one with a serious health condition (child, parent, in-law, grandchild, grandparent, spouse or domestic partner)
  • Military Service – Enables loved ones to spend time with those called to active military service, and to care for a child while a loved one is away
  • Unlike the Federal FMLA –  Leave for an employee’s own medical needs is NOT covered. This is a matter for statutory short-term disability benefits.

The program is funded by an employee deduction of 0.126% of the employee’s wage capped at the NYS average weekly wage, currently $1,305.92. The maximum deduction for various payroll periods is as follows:

  • For a weekly pay period, $1.65
  • For a biweekly pay period, $3.29
  • For a semi-monthly pay period, $3.57
  • For a monthly payroll period, $7.13

Employer Considerations:

  • Make the decision to self-insure or buy a policy to cover this benefit. Your broker, workers compensation or unemployment insurance carrier would be of assistance in this decision.
  • Employers have the option of beginning to withhold on July 1, 2017. Why would they do that? Well, if an employer decides to self-insure, this will give them the opportunity to build up a fund in advance of 2018. Also, if they decide to insure, the cost of insurance could exceed the maximum permitted deductions. This would enable employers to recoup some of that difference.
  • Post the state-mandated notice when it becomes available, in multiple languages, if appropriate.
  • Consult your employment counsel about amending paid time-off, leave of absence, and family and medical leave policies to comply with the PFL law.
    • Will you permit benefits to continue to be accrued during leave? Seniority?
    • Will you require PFL to be concurrent with FMLA? If you do not provide notice that they will run concurrently to an employee before the leave, the leaves will not run at the same time, meaning that an employee returning from PFL, could then take unpaid FMLA leave. Holding a position open for the employee’s return for the additional 12 weeks could be a major inconvenience.
    • Are your various policies consistent with one another?
  • Communicate to employees before leave that the employee’s health benefits will be continued during the leave, so long as the employees continue to pay their portion of the health insurance costs.
  • Self-employed persons (sole proprietors, partners, and LLC members) are excluded from the program, but may opt in and obtain voluntary coverage by January 1, 2018, or within 26 weeks of forming their company. After that point, they are subject to a two-year waiting period for PFL benefits.

You can learn more about the program here and scrolling down to “Paid Family Leave”.

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