What You Need to Know about New York State Paid Family Leave

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New York has joined California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey in requiring employers to obtain Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance coverage for their employees. Under New York law, the plan must be effective January 1, 2018. The premium may be fully paid by employees through payroll deductions,or paid by the business at the employer's option.


PFL allows employees to take paid time off during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty.



What you need to know as an EMPLOYER


  • The disability insurance policy you carry for your employees must include Paid Family Leave coverage as of January 1, 2018. You should contact your disability insurance carrier about obtaining PFL coverage.
  • You must cover employees that have worked for you 20 hours or more for 26 continuous weeks, or part time (less than 20 hours per week) for 175 days. Employees who do not expect to work long enough to qualify for PFL may opt out by completing an optional waiver of benefits form, and will not contribute to PFL through payroll deductions nor be eligible to take PFL. You may not require employees to complete a waiver. The waiver is automatically revoked if the employee's schedule changes and they become eligible.
  • You may begin deducting premium contributions from employees' wages any time after July 1, 2017, to fund the increased premiums you will pay for PFL coverage.  The maximum amount you may withhold is 0.126% of an employee's weekly wage, with a cap at the statewide average weekly wage of $1,305.92. Thus the payroll deduction will be 0.126% of the weekly wage but cannot exceed $1.65. The average weekly wage for an employee is calculated by adding up their pay for the last eight weeks and dividing by eight.
  • The premium rate your carrier may charge is set by law at the same amount as the maximum employee contribution, so you will not be out-of-pocket for the coverage premiums.
  • You can choose to foot the cost of the coverage yourself and not withhold from employees, or to start withholding from wages at a later date.
  • You must reinstate employees to their same or a comparable job upon return from PFL, or face possible discrimination and/or retaliation claims.
  • You must continue employees' health insurance while they are on PFL. You may require that employees continue to pay their share of health insurance premium contributions.
  • An employee is not entitled to accrue Paid Time Off while out on PFL, but you may permit this if you wish. You may not require employees to use sick or vacation leave before using PFL, but you may allow them to do so.
  • PFL is required for employees who work in New York, regardless of where your business is headquartered or where the employee lives.
  • You may not discriminate or retaliate against employees for taking or inquiring about PFL.
  • Citizenship and immigration status do not affect eligibility.
  • You must ensure that your employees are aware of PFL by including PFL information in their employee handbook or similar employee materials. By January 1, 2018, you must display a poster regarding PFL coverage, supplied by your insurance carrier, in your place of business.



What you need to know as an EMPLOYEE


  • Paid Family Leave coverage is not optional. You must participate if you meet the eligibility requirements of working 26 continuous weeks of 20 hours or more, or 175 days if you work less than 20 hours a week.
  • Your employer may withhold funds from your paycheck to fund the PFL premium. This may be up to 0.126% of your weekly wages, but cannot exceed $1.65 per week. Withholding may begin any time after July 1, 2017.
  • If you are entitled to PFL, starting January 1, 2018 you can claim one-half of your average weekly wage for up to 8 weeks, capped at the state-wide average weekly wage of $1,305.92. In other words, you will receive half of your salary, but not more than $652.96 per week. Under the law, these benefits will increase each year through 2021, when they reach 12 weeks at 67% of your average weekly wage. You may claim these benefits once in each 52-week period.
  • When you return from PFL, your employer must reinstate you to your same or a comparable position.
  • Your employer must continue your health insurance while you are on PFL. Your employer may require that you continue to pay your share of health insurance premium contributions.
  • Citizenship and immigration status do not affect eligibility.
  • Your employer may permit you to use sick or vacation leave if you wish to receive full pay, but may not require you to do so.



If you have any questions regarding NY Paid Family Leave, please feel free to contact our office.


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