On April 4, 2016 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) law for New York. Starting January 1, 2018, eligible workers in New York will be entitled to paid job-protected leave. It is one of the most expansive and comprehensive paid leave policies in the United States.
The PFL will phase in over four years:
2018: Employees can take up to 8 weeks of PFL with a weekly benefit of 50% of their average weekly wage (“AWW”), capped at 50% of New York State’s Average Weekly Wage (“NYSAWW”). Currently, the NYSAWW is $1,305.92.
2019: Employees can take up to 10 weeks of PFL with a weekly benefit of 55% of their AWW, capped at 55% of NYSAWW.
2020: Employees can take up to 10 weeks of PFL with a weekly benefit of 60% of their AWW, capped at 60% of NYSAWW.
2021: Employees can take up to 12 weeks of PFL with a weekly benefit of 67% of their AWW, capped at 67% of NYSAWW.
Types of PFL
- Maternity and/or paternity leave: This begins after birth and is not available for prenatal conditions. It applies to parents expecting, fostering or adopting a child.
- Leave to care for a close relative with a serious health condition: A close relative includes a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent and/or grandchild. Unlike the similar federal law (known as the Family & Medical Leave Act), PFL does NOT apply to an employee’s serious health condition.
- Leave to spend time with those (a close relative) called to active military service or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.
Almost all full-time and part-time New York employees who work for private employers will be covered by the PFL, regardless of their size. Public employers may opt into the program, however, many may have a comparable benefit under a collective bargaining agreement.
Employees are eligible for PFL after working full-time for 26 weeks or part-time for 175 days.
Employees can take the maximum benefit length in any 52-week period. The 52-week clock starts running on the first day the employee takes PFL.
The PFL is entirely employee funded. Thus, employees will start seeing payroll deduction for it beginning on or after July 1, 2017. It is not optional.
The State recently set the employee contribution rate for 2018 at 0.126% of the employee’s weekly wage, up to the NYSAWW. Thus, most that any employee will contribute in a given week will be $1.65 ($1,305.92 x .00126).
Employees are guaranteed to be able to return to their job after returning from PFL, or to a comparable position. While out on PFL, employees continue their health insurance, but remain responsible for their portion of the premium cost.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for taking PFL. Complaints to address alleged unlawful discrimination and/or retaliation must be made to the New York Workers’ Compensation Board within two years. Furthermore, employers must pay close attention to the interplay between state and federal laws when addressing requests for leave and/or reasonable accommodations.
You may be permitted to use sick and/or vacation time together with PFL so that you receive your full salary. Employers may be prohibited, however, from requiring employees to exhaust accrued sick and/or vacation time while out on PFL.
Applying for Benefits
To apply, notify your employer that you intend to file claim for PFL. If your PFL is foreseeable, give your employer notice 30 days in advance. Your employer’s insurance carrier will process the claim, or, your employer may process it directly if they are self-insured.
You must file a Request for PFL form and documentation in support of your claim. The required documentation differs based on what type of PFL you are seeking. If your claim for PFL is denied, you may file a request to have the denial reviewed by an independent arbitrator.
For more information, call the PFL toll-free helpline at (844)-337-6303 (Monday thru Friday–8:30 am to 4:30 pm).
Or, you can access additional information online at: