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What is the New York State Paid Family Leave Law?

The New York State Paid Family Leave (PFL) Law, which is set to go into effect on January 1, 2018, 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 loved one with a serious health condition, and related to a family member called to active military service.

What is the New York State Paid Family Leave Law?

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. An annual maximum rate for the employee’s contributions will be established by the State of New York.
  • Employees do not have to take all of their sick leave and/or vacation 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.
  • 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.

Benefits

  • The PFL Law takes effect 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 average weekly wage, 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
Jan. 1, 2018 8 weeks 50% $653*
Jan. 1, 2019 10 weeks 55% 55% of State Avg. Weekly Wage
Jan. 1, 2020 10 weeks 60% 60% of State Avg. Weekly Wage
Jan. 1, 2021 12 weeks 67% 67% of State Avg. Weekly Wage

New York Paid Family Leave: What You Need to Know

What situations qualify for PFL?

  • Maternity and Paternity Leave (Bonding Leave) related to Birth, Adopted or Foster Child: 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. Births or child placements which occurred in 2017 may be eligible. 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, 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 Eligible?

  • Employees at private organizations in New York State who have more than one employee (excluding the owner) for at least 30 days in a year; if they meet the eligibility criteria below. Participation in the program, if eligible, is not optional for employees. However, certain employees have the option to file for a waiver of PFL benefits (i.e. seasonal employees).
  • Employees who regularly work 20 or more hours per week are eligible after they have been employed for at least 26 consecutive weeks.
  • Employees who work less than 20 hours per week are eligible if they have been employed for at least 175 days of consecutive employment.

Who is Ineligible?

  • An employee seeking leave due to his or her own serious health condition.
  • Employees who have filed a waiver of leave benefits.
  • Any employee already receiving total disability benefits (i.e. the coverage an injured worker may receive during his/her recovery).
  • Employees on administrative leave.
  • Employees who work for an exempt employer.
  • Employees who are excluded from coverage under Article 9 of the Disability Benefits Law (DBL) and the Paid Family Leave (PFL) Law.

New York Paid Family Leave: Information for Employers

Are you a Guardian DBL customer? Register here for our "Get Ready for New York Paid Family Leave" webinar on July 11, 2017 at 2:00 PM EST. Access to the on-demand playback is available to all registrants.

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 are PFL and DBL the same?

  • PFL will be included under an employer’s DBL policy; coverage for both DBL and PFL must be from the same carrier.
  • Both PFL and DBL are mandatory for eligible employees.

How are PFL and DBL different?

  • 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.
  • Combined, PFL and DBL benefits 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 and 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 are employee PFL contributions determined?

PFL benefits will begin on January 1, 2018 and employers may begin payroll deductions beginning on July 1, 2017. New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) is responsible for developing the rates and rate structure. Rates were released on June 1, 2017:

  • Rate is based on an employee’s salary
  • Weekly contribution rate for PFL for 2018 is 0.126% of the employee’s weekly wage – up to and not to exceed the statewide average weekly wage**
  • Statewide average weekly wage is determined annually on July 1st
  • Based on the estimated statewide average weekly wage**, the maximum contribution is $1.65 per week/per employee

Guardian is actively reviewing and operationalizing the PFL regulatory requirements published by New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) and soon to be released by New York’s Workers Compensation Board, with the goal of a seamless transition of our DBL customers to combined DBL/PFL plans.

Have questions?

For more information, you can visit the state of New York’s Paid Family Leave website at www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave.

The information presented is intended as a general overview of New York Paid Family Leave and is not intended as legal advice. Please consult with appropriate professionals for legal and compliance advice. In the event of any conflict between this document and the relevant policy, the policy shall control.

* Estimate
** Estimated statewide average weekly wage is currently $1,305.92. https://labor.ny.gov/stats/avg_wkly_wage.shtm


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