New York Paid Family Leave Law Goes Live on January 1

Nearly twenty months after it was enacted, the first phase of the New York Paid Family Leave Law (NYPFL) goes into effect on January 1, 2018. New York joins a handful of states that require employers to obtain paid family leave benefits for employees through an insured program.

The NYPFL gives employees job-protected paid leave to bond with a newly born, adopted or foster child, care for a family member with a serious health condition or assist when a family member is deployed abroad or called to active military service.

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All private sector employees regularly scheduled at least 20 hours weekly are eligible after 26 weeks of employment. Employees regularly schedule for less than 20 hours weekly are eligible after 175 days worked.

Employees fund the paid leave benefit through payroll deductions. The NYPFL benefits increase annually through 2021, when the maximum benefit is reached.

Employees are eligible for up to 8 weeks of leave in 2018, up to 10 weeks in both 2019 and 2020 and up to 12 weeks in 2021 and in subsequent years. The weekly benefit increases annually from 50% of the employee’s “average weekly wage” (AWW) up to 50% of the state’s Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) in 2018, to 67% of the employee’s AWW up to 67% of the SAWW in 2021.

Employers must continue an employee’s health insurance while on the employee is on NYPFL leave, may require an employee to make the premium contributions, and must reinstate an employee who takes NYPFL leave to his/her same or comparable job upon return from leave. Employers must also notify employees of the PFL program and display a PFL poster.

A PFL-hat tip to New York for the resources it has developed to assist employers, employees and healthcare providers prepare to comply with the law. These resources are here. The employer resources include “model language” to include in communications with employees about the law. The Workers Compensation Board has issued regulations.

Also, the New York Workers Compensation Board has been hosting webinars to educate employers and employees about the law.  The slides from those webinars are available via a link on the resources page.