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What is the New York State Paid Family Leave Law?

Father holding new born baby

The New York State Paid Family Leave (PFL) Law provides paid leave to employees for maternity and paternity leave (bonding leave), including leave related to adoption and foster care obligations prior to the child's placement with the family; to care for a family member with a serious health condition; and to assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.

Tools and Resources to Help You Better Understand NY PFL:

Note: All tools and resources are in the process of being updated.

New York Paid Family Leave: How it Works

  • PFL coverage will be included under the disability policy New York employers are mandated to carry under the New York Disability Benefits Law (DBL). The premium cost for the coverage will be funded by employees through payroll deductions (or funded entirely by the employer if they choose). An annual maximum rate for the employee’s contributions will be established by the State of New York.
  • Employees must be given the choice but cannot be required by the employer to take all their sick leave and/or vacation time (PTO) before using PFL. An employer may permit an employee to use sick or vacation leave for full pay but may not require an employee to use the PFL leave. The time used and paid for through PTO would count against the employee's PFL benefit period allotment (i.e. reduce the 10-week benefit period allotted in 2020).
  • Employees are guaranteed job protection and continuation of health insurance (provided any employee contributions are continued) while on PFL.
  • The program is mandatory for all private employers, and public employers may opt-in.
  • PFL is funded through employee contributions as follows:
    • The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) is responsible for developing the rates and rate structure for the NY Paid Family Leave program. Rates will be announced by September 1 each year to be effective January 1 for the upcoming calendar year.
    • Rate is based on an employee’s salary.
    • Employers are to take deductions of 0.270% of employees’ gross weekly wages up to the annualized New York State Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW) which is $72,860.84 for 2020 ($1,401.17 AWW x 52 weeks = $72,860.84) for a maximum annual employee contribution of $196.72.
    • Statewide average weekly wage is determined annually on March 31.

Benefits

  • The PFL Law became effective January 1, 2018 and phases in over four years.
  • Employees may take the maximum benefit length in any given 52-week period. The 52-week period begins the first day of an employee’s PFL or DBL benefit.
  • The NYS Department of Labor annually publishes the NY State Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW), the basis for determining the maximum benefit payable. We anticipate the following benefits schedule:

Effective Date Maximum Length of Paid Leave Payable % of an Employee’s Average Weekly Wage Maximum Weekly Benefit
(Cap % of NYSAWW)
Jan. 1, 2018 8 weeks 50% $652.96 (50% of NYSAWW of $1,305.92)
Jan. 1, 2019 10 weeks 55% $746.41 (55% of NYSAWW of $1,357.11)
Jan. 1, 2020 10 weeks 60% $840.70 (60% of NYSAWW of $1401.17)
Jan. 1, 2021 12 weeks 67% 67% of NYSAWW

All claims initiated in 2019 will continue to be paid benefits based on 2019 benefit provisions through the duration of the claim, even if the claim extends into 2020, per NY state regulations. For example, if a bonding claim is initiated in December 2019 for 8 weeks, even though the claim period extends into 2020, since the claim was initiated in 2019, 2019 benefit provisions will apply for the duration of the 8-week claim.

New York Paid Family Leave: What You Need to Know

What Situations Qualify for PFL?

  • Maternity and Paternity Leave (Bonding Leave) related to Birth, Adoption or Foster Care: PFL only begins after birth and is not available for prenatal conditions. A parent may take PFL during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. Leave must be taken within the first year of the birth or placement. A parent may also take leave as needed related to adoption and foster care placement obligations (i.e. attend counseling sessions, travel to another country to complete an adoption, consult with doctors and attorneys representing the birth parent, and appear in court).
  • Caring for a Spouse, Domestic Partner, Child, Parent, Parent in-law, Grandparent, Grandchild with a Serious Health Condition.
  • Active Duty Deployment (Exigency Leave): Military provisions in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act when a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent of the employee is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order of active duty.

Who is a Covered Employee for NY PFL?

  • Covered employees are employees who are "employed" in New York State (meaning they physically work in New York State), and are either working for a covered employer and don't fall into an excluded class, or are working for an employer who voluntarily provides PFL coverage. Participation in the NY PFL program is not optional for covered employees; however, if the employee will not meet the eligibility requirements stated below, and addressed in greater detail in the FAQs, the employee has the option to file for a waiver of PFL benefits (i.e. certain seasonal employees).

Who is NOT a Covered Employee for NY PFL?

Below is a partial list. For a full listing and details, click here.

  • Employees who work for a "non-covered" employer, unless the employer opts-in for voluntary coverage
  • Any employee already receiving total disability benefits, such as under a claim for workers' compensation, state disability insurance (SDI), volunteer firefighters or volunteer ambulance workers' benefits
  • An employee collecting unemployment benefits (State Unemployment Insurance SUI) due to their job termination
  • Employees on administrative leave
  • The minor child of an employer
  • Government, railroad, maritime, or farm laborers
  • Ministers, priests, rabbis, members of religious orders, sextons, Christian Science readers
  • Individuals that volunteer their services for non-profit organizations and receive no compensation
  • An executive officer of an incorporated religious, charitable or educational institution, or persons engaged in a professional or teaching capacity in or for a religious, charitable or educational institution
  • Persons receiving aid from a religious or charitable institution, who perform work in return for such aid
  • One or two corporate officers who either singly or jointly own all the stock and hold all of the offices of a corporation that employs no other employees
  • Daytime students in elementary or secondary school, who work part-time during the school year or their regular vacation period
  • True independent contractors and subcontractors
  • Spouse of an employer (sole proprietor, legal partnership, LLC/LLP) that files a spousal exclusion form

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

  • Employees who regularly work 20 or more hours per week are eligible for coverage after they have been employed for at least 26 consecutive weeks preceding the first full day family leave begins.
  • Employees who work less than 20 hours per week are eligible for coverage if they have worked at least 175 days preceding the first full day the leave begins.

The eligibility requirements (26 consecutive weeks or 175 workdays) is not required to be within a 52-week period, in other words, the employee would not need to meet the eligibility requirements each year. Eligibility is from date of hire; once met for either, it does not need to be met again in ensuing years. Once an employee has met eligibility requirement specific to the type of employee the person is (an employee that works 20 or more hours/week or an employee that works less than 20 hrs/week), the employee remains eligible for the duration of his/her employment.

Are Employers Required to Cover Their Out-of-State Employees for PFL?

NY DBL and NY PFL are mandated benefits for employees who work in New York, technically whose “employment” is in New York. Employers should refer to Section 201(6) of the New York Workers’ Compensation Law to determine if any of their employees are not considered “employed” in NY and therefore are not covered employees.

New York Employee or Out-of-State Employee? Considerations:

  • An employee who works from their home in New York is considered a New York employee even if the employer is located outside of New York State.
  • An employee who lives in New York but works outside of New York is not considered a New York employee if the employer is located outside of New York.
  • An employee that is required to travel occasionally into New York to perform duties, such as a salesperson, will not be considered a New York employee unless the employer is based in New York.

Related Articles

 

New York Paid Family Leave: Information for Employers

How is PFL Administered?

Administered through an employer’s existing statutory short-term disability insurance (DBL), PFL benefits will be rolled out effective January 1, 2018, with benefit increases phased in each year until January 1, 2021. Here is some useful information to help ensure you stay compliant with the new regulations.

How Does PFL Work with NY DBL?

  • PFL will be included under an employer's DBL policy.
  • Both PFL and DBL are mandatory for covered employees.
  • PFL and DBL benefits cannot be collected at the same time.
  • Unlike DBL benefits, there is no waiting period before employees become eligible to receive PFL benefits and benefits are payable on the first full day PFL leave is required.
  • PFL and DBL benefits combined must not amount to more than the 26-week benefit maximum during any 52 consecutive calendar weeks.
  • Unlike DBL, PFL is designed to provide expanded benefits for employees (regardless of gender) for paid family leave not related to the employee's own health condition.
  • PFL is fully funded by employees and does not require any employer contributions. DBL requires employer contributions.

How Does PFL Relate to the FMLA?

If you are an employer with 50 or more employees in New York, effective January 1, 2018, you will need to comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the NY PFL. View an overview of key differences between the FMLA and NY PFL.

How Does New York PFL Compare with PFL Programs in Other States?

California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island also currently have Paid Family Leave programs. Washington State and Washington D.C. Paid Family Leave programs will go into effect 2020 while Massachusetts will become effective in 2021. View a comparison of all state PFL programs.

Have Questions?

For more information, contact your Guardian Group Sales or Service representative or visit the state of New York’s Paid Family Leave website at www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave.

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