Q&A: New York Paid Family Leave

This document provides answers to questions about the New York Paid Family Leave (PFL) law. The bill, which requires employers to provide paid family leave benefits to eligible employees as part of the state’s disability insurance program, was signed on April 4, 2016 by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Starting January 1, 2018, New York employees will be eligible for paid family leave benefits. The benefits will be funded by employees’ payroll deductions and will be phased in over a period of four years. When the law is fully implemented in 2021, employees may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.

Updated September 06, 2018.

What employers are affected by the new law?
Covered employers include those that are in the private sector and have one or more employees employed in New York on each of at least 30 days in any calendar year. (Public-sector employers are not obligated to comply, but can opt in.)

What employees are eligible?
A full or part-time employee, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, is eligible for paid family leave benefits if the employee works for a covered employer for 26 or more consecutive weeks. (Independent contractors are not eligible unless they purchase coverage for themselves.)

Are self-employed individuals eligible?
Independent contractors are not eligible unless they purchase coverage for themselves. If they choose to purchase coverage, they must do so within 26 weeks of forming their business or becoming a member of an LLC/LLP. If they miss the window, they are subject to a 2-year waiting period.

They must still provide coverage for their employees and must be under the same policy if they choose coverage for themselves.

When does coverage begin?
Monday, January 1, 2018

What is the maximum employee contribution rate?
The rate is updated on September 1 of each year.

For 2019, the maximum employee contribution rate is 0.153% of the employee’s annual wages for the calendar year (capped at 0.153% of New York’s annualized average weekly wage, which is currently $70,569.72). This means the maximum annual premium to be charged to an employee for paid family leave benefits coverage for 2019 is $107.97.

For 2018, the maximum employee contribution rate is 0.126% of the employee’s annual wages for the calendar year (capped at 0.126% of New York’s annualized average weekly wage, which is currently $67,907.84). This means the maximum annual premium to be charged to an employee for paid family leave benefits coverage for 2018 is $85.56.

What are employers required to do under the law?

Funding: Employers are not responsible for contributing to or funding paid family leave benefits. The premium will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions. Paid family leave coverage must be included under the New York State disability policy held by employers.

Paycheck deductions: Employers will need to comply with the administrative task of deducting the appropriate amounts from employee paychecks to fund paid family leave benefits.

For 2019, employers can collect premiums by withholding 0.153% of every wage dollar paid until the $107.97 annual cap is met, then stop withholding. This means that 0.0153% of an employee’s weekly wage may be higher or lower depending on payments, such as, for example, commissions, bonuses, or overtime in some weeks.

An employee’s annual contribution cannot exceed the employee’s per capita share of the actual annual premium charged for the same year. An employee’s annual contribution must be determined consistent with the principle that employees should pay the total costs of the family leave premium.

Policies: New York employers and employers with employees in New York should review their existing paid time off, leaves of absence and family and medical leave policies. These policies may need to be revised to comply with the new paid family leave program.

  • Post a notice: Employers will be required to conspicuously post a notice in the workplace to indicate their compliance with the PFL requirements.
  • Written notice: Employers must provide employees who take eight or more consecutive days of family leave with a written notice of their rights under the new law.

Employee absence costs: Employers should prepare for the potential costs related to employee absences during their paid family leaves.

Comply with the new law or possibly face penalties: An employer that fails to comply with the requirements of the PFL law is guilty of a misdemeanor and may face penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

What are the paid family leave benefits?
When fully implemented in 2021, eligible employees may receive up to 12 weeks of paid family leave within a 52-week calendar period at 67 percent of their average weekly wages. The amount of paid family leave benefits will be phased in as follows:

January 1, 2018

  • Maximum Benefit within 52-week Period: 8 Weeks
  • Paid Family Leave Benefit: 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage

January 1, 2019

  • Maximum Benefit within 52-week Period: 10 Weeks
  • Paid Family Leave Benefit: 55% of the employee’s average weekly wage

January 1, 2020

  • Maximum Benefit within 52-week Period: 10 Weeks
  • Paid Family Leave Benefit: 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage

January 1, 2021

  • Maximum Benefit within 52-week Period: 12 Weeks
  • Paid Family Leave Benefit: 67% of the employee’s average weekly wage

An employee’s paid family leave benefits are also capped at the state average weekly wage. For example, effective January 1, 2018, eligible employees may receive up to 50 percent of their average weekly wage during family leave, not to exceed 50 percent of the state average weekly wage (which is $1,305.92 for 2016). The New York State average weekly wage is updated annually on July 1st. When an employee is eligible for paid family leave, there is no waiting period before employees are eligible to receive paid family leave benefits.

In addition, the New York Department of Financial Services has discretion in delaying the increases to family leave benefits if there are concerns about the stability of the program or potential negative effects on the economy.

How may family leave be used?
An employee may receive paid family leave benefits to:

  • Provide care, including physical or psychological care, to a family member with a serious health condition
  • Bond with their child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or after the placement of the child for adoption or foster care
  • Address needs arising out of active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces

For purposes of family leave, “family member” is defined as a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse or domestic partner. The definition of a “serious health condition” is similar to the definition under the FMLA.

Multiple Employees Eligible for Same Family Member
If there are two employees of the same employer that are eligible for leave for the same family member, an employer may implement rules to limit employees from receiving paid family leave benefits at the same time. For example, an employer may restrict spouses (who both work for the employer) from taking family leave at the same time to care for their child.

Intermittent Leave
Paid family leave benefits may be received on an intermittent basis (less than a full workweek), in increments of one full day (that is, one-fifth of the weekly benefit).

Employee Notice and Certification
When the need for family leave is foreseeable, an employee may be required to provide his or her employer with 30 days’ advance notice of the intention to take family leave. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable.

An employee may be required to provide medical certification completed by a health care provider to support the need for family leave.

Interaction with Other Laws and Benefits
An employee is not able to receive both full disability benefits and paid family leave benefits at the same time. However, an employee may be able to supplement partial disability benefits with paid family leave benefits, up to the family leave benefit maximum, when combined with the partial disability benefit. No employee is entitled to more than 26 weeks of combined disability and family leave benefits during a 52-consecutive calendar week period.

In addition, any paid family leave benefit must run concurrently with an employee’s available entitlement under the federal FMLA, unless an employer chooses to permit otherwise. No employee is entitled to more than 12 weeks of paid family leave benefits within a 52-week calendar period.

Also, an employee may choose, but cannot be required, to use accrued and available vacation or other paid time off to receive a full salary while on family leave (in lieu of the paid family leave benefit).

Employee Protections
An employee who takes time off for a permitted paid family leave reason must be reinstated to his or her original position upon return to work, or reinstated to a comparable position with equal pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. In addition, an employer may not retaliate against an employee who takes paid family leave.

An employer must maintain an employee’s group health plan benefits for the duration of paid family leave as if the employee had continued to work. Additionally, an employee may not lose any benefits accrued during employment prior to taking family leave.

Additional information is available on the ny.gov website.

Select content in this document is based on publicly available information and from third party sources without further verification. We cannot and do not guarantee the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of such information for any particular purpose. Please be advised that this document is neither intended to be an interpretation of any policy language nor is it to be construed as a contract or providing legal or tax advice.

Contact Us