Beginning January 1, 2018, private employees in New York State will be covered by the state’s paid family leave program. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the family leave bill into law in 2016, along with a $15 minimum wage bill. The governor’s office described the legislation as the nation’s most comprehensive and strongest paid family leave policy. Here is what you need to know.
Who is eligible?
Nearly all private employees in New York State are eligible for the benefit, whether they work full-time or part-time. Employees become eligible after being employed full-time for 26 weeks or working part-time for 175 days. Employees do not have to use up their sick leave or vacation days before using the benefit. Employers may permit employees to use vacation or sick leave in order to receive full pay, but may not require them to use it.
What situations permit an employee to take paid leave?
Paid family leave is available in specific situations. The first is maternity and paternity leave, which is available to parents who are expecting, adopting or fostering a child. In addition, employees may take paid leave to care for a close relative with a serious health condition. The relative must be a spouse or domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandchild, and the condition must involve inpatient care or continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider. Finally, paid family leave is available for families eligible for leave under the military provisions in the federal Family Medical Leave Act, when a parent, child, spouse or domestic partner of the employee is on active duty or called to active duty. Paid family leave can not be used for the employee’s own disability or military event.
How much pay is provided, and for how long?
The amount of the benefit will be phased in over four years.
- In 2018, 8 weeks of paid family leave will be available, paying 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage, except that the pay is capped at 50% of the average weekly wage in New York State.
- In 2019, the benefit rises to 10 weeks of leave at 55% pay with a 55% cap.
- In 2020, 10 weeks of leave will be provided at 60% pay with a 60% cap.
- In 2021, the benefit will be 12 weeks of leave at 67% pay with a 67% cap.
How is the program funded?
The program is entirely employee-funded, through payroll tax. The program is not optional.
How do I apply?
Your employer’s insurance carrier will accept claims applications and pay benefits. If your employer self-insures, then the application and benefits will be processed directly by the employer. You must notify your employer that you intend to take leave, and if your need for leave is foreseeable, you must give your employer 30 days notice. For more information, call the state helpline at 1-844-337-6303.
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