Employer Alert – NYS Paid Family Leave Notice
Effective January 1, 2018, nearly all private employers in New York State must secure Paid Family Leave coverage for their employees.
Paid Family Leave coverage is funded by employee payroll contributions. It provides wage replacement and job protection to employees who need time away from their jobs to:
- Bond with a newly born, adopted, or fostered child,
- Care for a family member with a serious health condition, or
- Assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty
Insurance coverage for Paid Family Leave must be available to employees beginning January 1, 2018, and generally will be included under an employer’s existing disability benefits policy.
- Employees with a regular work schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 weeks of employment.
- Employees with a regular work schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days worked.
Employees who are ineligible for paid family leave benefits because they are not scheduled to work for at least 26 consecutive weeks, or will not work 175 days in a 52-week period, may sign a waiver opting out of paid family leave benefits. Employers must offer the waiver to such ineligible employees. When practical, employees should provide 30 days advance notice of their intention to use Paid Family Leave. An employee is not required to expressly request paid family leave benefits or mention PFL. Rather, an employee only needs to make the employer aware of the qualifying event. Once the employee does so, the employer must complete the employer section of the Request for Paid Family Leave form, which can be found here, and return it to the employee within three business days. The employee will then be required to complete the form and submit it to the insurance carrier with any required certifications.
Employers may collect the cost of Paid Family Leave through payroll deductions. The maximum employee contribution in 2018 shall be 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, up to the annualized New York State Average Weekly Wage. Employers could begin to make these payroll deductions as early as July 1, 2017.
Benefits phase in over four years. In 2018, employees are eligible for up to eight weeks of paid leave at 50% of their average weekly wage (AWW), up to 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW).
- Employers should contact their disability insurance carrier about obtaining Paid Family Leave coverage ASAP.
- Employers must ensure that their employees are aware of the Paid Family Leave program and that their organizational policies comply with the law. If an employer has written guidance for employees on employee benefits or leave rights, such as an employee handbook, information concerning leave under PFL must be included in the handbook or other written guidance. If a covered employer does not have written policies, manuals or handbooks describing employee benefits and leave provisions, the employer must provide written guidance to employees concerning their rights and obligations under PFL including information on how to file a claim.
- Employers must display a poster regarding Paid Family Leave coverage in their place of business, similar to Workers’ Compensation or Disability Benefits coverage.
- Employees are entitled to be reinstated to their same or comparable job upon return from Paid Family Leave.
- Failure to reinstate employees to their same or comparable job may leave employers exposed to discrimination and/or retaliation claims.
- Employers must continue employees’ health insurance while they are on Paid Family Leave. Employers may require that employees continue to pay their health insurance premium contributions.
For help updating your employee handbook please contact Caroline Organ at [email protected] or 716-854-5034. For more information on PFL, visit https://www.ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-paid-family-leave.