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The new NY Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (“NYPFL”)

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2017 | Employment Law

Besides raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the Paid Leave Benefits Law (“NYPFL”) becomes effective January 1, 2018, and is also changing.

We discussed the overall changes in our December blog. But as the official starting date of January 1 approaches it is important to know the details.

  • Employees can take up to 12 weeks off for birth and adoption, and have up to a year to take that leave.
  • Spouses can also take the maximum allowable time off, giving a couple a total of four months (16 weeks) of time off.
  • Employees can also take time off to care for an ill family member or because a spouse is on active duty.

This time off will increase each year. In 2019 employees can take 10 weeks off and in the years after that a total of 12 weeks. Employees with foreseeable events are to give 30 days’ advance notice. There are different stipulations for employees who work fewer than 40 hours per week.

Paid time off

Unlike the federal FMLA where leave is unpaid, the new NYPFL is paid. In 2018 employees will earn 50 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage or 50 percent of the state average weekly wage, whichever is less while on leave. That will increase to 55 percent in 2019, then 60 percent in 2020 and 67 percent in 2021. Not only will employees be eligible for a paid benefit while on leave, their employer will have to return that employee to their prior position or a comparable one.

Who pays for it?

The employees will pay for this program. While the program does not officially start until January 1, employers were given the option of deducting beginning July 1, 2017. Beginning January 1, each employee will contribute 0.126 percent of his or her weekly salary into a fund. The contribution amount is based on a statewide average salary.  Using a set statewide average of $1,305.92 the average contribution per employee will be $1.65. Employers who collect more than the annual premium bill are expected to return the difference.

Who qualifies?

NYPFL also differs from the federal FMLA in that does not provide leave to an employee for their own respective medical condition, but only for that of a family member. All private sector employers in New York that have one or more employees are subject to and have to comply with the PFL. In other words, this new law applies to virtually all private sector employers in New York State.  Employees with a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 weeks of employment.  Employees with a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days worked.  Employees do not have to take all of their sick leave and/or vacation before using paid family leave. An employer may permit you to use sick or vacation leave for full pay, but may not require you to use this leave.

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