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New York enacts strong family leave act

New York businesses have long had to track and stay on top of various employment laws covering topics such as discrimination and other civil rights protections. Employees always want to know what type of time off from work they are allowed either in the form of vacation days, sick days, paid holidays and more.

In addition, employees often need to take time off of work to take care of special family situations. For a long time now, this has been done under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act which guarantees many people the ability to take up to 12 weeks of time off of work without concern of losing their jobs. However, New York is taking this law to a whole new level and executives and business owners operating in the state should be aware of how things will soon change.

Paid versus unpaid leave

According to the State of New York, the time that employees are allowed to take off of their jobs under the FMLA is unpaid. Families must, therefore, budget accordingly when making the choice to care for their new babies or ill relatives. This does not mean that businesses do not feel the impact of their absence as they sometimes have to hire temporary help or manage the lost productivity in the interim.

Soon, New York employees will feel less of a financial burden when making the decision to step away from professional responsibilities to put families first. The Governor has put forth as part of his 2016-2017 budget a paid family leave plan.

State law broader in scope than federal law

The U.S. Department of Labor indicates that the FMLA does not apply to all businesses. Only those with 50 or more employees, for example, are required to provide the unpaid leave to workers under the FMLA. That will be different as well under the state's plan as even small businesses will be mandated to provide this time off to their employees.

State will adopt a phased-in approach

While the new state law will ultimately provide 12 weeks of paid time off per year that will not happen right away. New York Magazine explains that when the law takes effect at the beginning of 2018, employees will be given eight weeks of paid time off in the first year. That will increase to 10 weeks the following year and reach the full 12 weeks two years later in 2021.

Another element of the new paid leave act that will be phased in is the pay itself. Upon launch, the law will provide for a person to earn roughly half of his or her normal wage during the time off. That will increase over time but will also be subject to a maximum of two-thirds of the state's average weekly wage.

Businesses should prepare now

With just over one year before the state's paid family leave plan becomes effective, companies should be actively planning their strategies for implementing this into their businesses. They should consult with an experienced legal team to learn about the nuances of the new law in order to be fully compliant.

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