What You Need to Know About New York Paid Family Leave, from RPJ Associate Allison M. Grein

What You Need to Know About New York Paid Family Leave, from RPJ Associate Allison M. Grein
February 7, 2018 RPJ Law

On January 1, 2018, New York’s Paid Family Leave (“NYPFL”) law went into effect, requiring employers to provide paid family leave for their employees. NYPFL takes the basic concept of the federally enacted Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), which provides 12 weeks of unpaid, but fully job-protected leave, several steps farther, by requiring employers to eventually provide up to 12 weeks of partially-paid, fully job-protected leave. Since FMLA went into effect 25 years ago, only a few states have enacted paid family leave laws, and NYPFL offers some of the most comprehensive and generous paid family leave benefits in the country.

The key provisions of NYPFL are as follows:

  • Qualifying Events –  NYPFL is available to enable employees to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to bond with a newly born, adopted or fostered child; or to address a qualifying exigency relating to a spouse, partner, child or parent who is on active military duty.
  • Eligibility –  Employees who work more than 20 hours per week are eligible for NYPFL benefits after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Employees who work less than 20 hours per week are eligible after they have worked 175 days (which do not need to be consecutive).
  • Benefits –  Effective January 1, 2018, employees are entitled to up to 8 weeks of partially-paid, but fully job-protected leave at 50% of their Average Weekly Wage (“AWW”), capped at the New York State Average Weekly Wage (“SAWW”). The SAWW for 2018 is $652.96. In subsequent years, the leave entitlement will increase as follows:
Benefits Increase Through 2021
Year
Weeks of Leave
Benefit
2018
8 weeks
50% of employee’s AWW, up to 50% of SAWW ($652.96)
2019
10 weeks
55% of employee’s AWW, up to 55% of SAWW
2020
10 weeks
60% of employee’s AWW, up to 60% of SAWW
2021
12 weeks
67% of employee’s AWW, up to 67% of SAWW

 

  • Funding –  NYPFL is funded through employee contributions, and NYPFL benefits are administered either through the employer’s insurance program or directly through the employer if the employer is self-insured.

Employers are well advised to review their existing leave policies and take the following steps to ensure their compliance with NYPFL:

  1. Update Employer Policies and/or Handbooks.  Employers should update or supplement their existing policies and/or handbooks to comply with NYPFL and distribute any updated written materials to their employees.
  2. Ensure your company has NYPFL coverage.  Employers were required to have NYPFL insurance in place by January 1, 2018. If it hasn’t been done already, employers must obtain NYPFL coverage from their insurers as soon as possible. A list of insurers offering NYPFL policies can be found here on the Department of Financial Services website.
  3. Prepare for employee payroll contributions.  Employers’ payroll processes should be updated to collect the NYPFL employee contributions. It is strongly recommended that the employer notify its employees about the new withholdings that they will begin seeing on their earnings statements.
  4. Inform eligible employees about their rights under NYPFL.  Employers should provide employees with a Statement of Rights for Paid Family Leave when the employer learns its employees are taking a leave that qualifies for NYPFL benefits. The Statement of Rights is available here.
  5. Inform ineligible employees about NYPFL waivers.  Employers should identify employees who do not meet the eligibility requirements under NYPFL and provide them with waiver forms, which offer those employees the option to waive their coverage under NYPFL. The waiver form is available here.
  6. Post an employee notice.  The employer’s insurer should provide the employer with an NYPFL Notice of Compliance, which should be posted by the employer in a conspicuous place easily accessible and visible to employees. If the employer is self-insured, the notice can be obtained by contacting the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board at certificates@wcb.ny.gov.

The full text of the new law can be found here. Additional information regarding the requirements under the law can be found by reviewing the NYPFL website’s Frequently Asked Questions. Forms for administering NYPFL provided by New York State can be found here.

Allison M. (“Ally”) Grein

This article is intended only as a general discussion of these issues. It is not considered to be legal advice or relied upon.  For more information regarding your rights and obligations under the new law and strategies to manage its impact, please contact RPJ Associate Allison “Ally” M. Grein, who regularly counsels clients on intellectual property, entertainment and employment law matters.

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