Effective January 1, 2018, a new benefit called Paid Family Leave will become part of the New York Workers Compensation law. Paid Family Leave guarantees paid leave and job protection to New York families who:
need to take care of a family member’s serious health condition
need to bond with a child
help families who have a family member who has been called to active military service
Employees are also guaranteed the continuance of their health insurance. If the employee contributes to the cost of their health insurance, they must continue to pay their portion of the premium cost while on Paid Family Leave.
Who is eligible?
All full-time employees who are employed by an employer for 26 weeks or more and all part-time employees (whether or not a U.S. citizen and even if undocumented) who are employed by an employer for 175 days or more are eligible for Paid Family Leave. Participation in the program is not optional for most employees. The exception is if you are in a job that will not allow you to attain the minimum time required mentioned above (for example a seasonal worker).
How is Paid Family Leave funded?
Paid Family Leave benefits are either funded by the employer or by employees. Employers must contact their disability insurance provider to add Paid Family Leave to their existing short-term disability insurance policy, which all New York employers must carry. Your carrier will be sending you the necessary documents and information by the fourth quarter of this year. If you do not receive them, please contact your insurance provider directly. If the employer chooses not to fund the benefit, the benefit is funded by employees through payroll deductions. The payroll deductions can begin as early as July 1, 2017, but no later than January 1, 2018. The Department of Financial Services has set the rate for Paid Family Leave at 0.126% of the employee’s weekly wage, not to exceed the statewide weekly wage rate of $1,305.92, which was the rate on March 31, 2017. The maximum wage rate will be recalculated every year.
Timeline for Paid Family Leave Benefits
Paid Family Leave is designed to phase in over four years, starting January 1, 2018.
As shown in the chart above, employees may take the maximum benefit length in any given 52-week period. During the first year, the maximum benefit is eight weeks, 10 weeks during the second and third years, and 12 weeks the fourth and subsequent years. The 52-week clock starts on the first day the employee takes Paid Family Leave.
What Are the Next Steps for Employers?
All private sector employers should:
Begin looking at their current policies - Family Medical Leave, Disability Benefits, Sick Leave, and Vacation
Begin tracking the type of leave taken by each employee and monitor the payments related to each - if not already in place
Start reviewing employment records to identify employees who will be eligible for Paid Family Leave — effective January 1, 2018
Contact the insurance carrier to add Paid Family Leave to their existing insurance policy as well as conspicuously post a notice in the workplace on the new Paid Family Leave benefit.
Advise employees in writing of their various obligations related to the Paid Family Leave benefit, including:
The amount and anticipated date of when payroll deductions will begin
The 30-day notification and supporting certification requirement before Paid Family Leave can be taken. More information and certification requirements can be found by filing a claim.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees (or even a single employee) should also begin setting up procedures and processes for Paid Family Leave.
For more information please feel free to contact us or visit the New York State website.