Effective January 1, 2018, all private employers (and many public employers) in New York State are required to allow employees to take paid leave in certain circumstances. The law applies to all private employers with at least one (1) employee. Although the paid family leave law only just went into effect this month, employers have been permitted to collect premiums from their employees’ payroll since July 2017. To ensure they comply with the law, employers should understand the following provisions:
When can employees take paid leave?
Employees can take paid leave in order to:
- Take care of a seriously ill family member;
- Bond with a newborn, adopted or foster child; and
- Attend to family issues related to a qualifying military deployment.
Under the new law, leave taken by an employee from work in any of the above circumstances is considered family care leave and the employee’s position must be held open during such leave. A full-time employee is eligible for family care leave when employed for at least twenty-six (26) consecutive weeks and even a part-time employee can be eligible for family care leave if employed for not less than one hundred seventy-five (175) days.
How are benefits paid?
The benefits are to be paid by an insurance policy which the employer is required to obtain on behalf of the employees, with the idea being that the entire cost of this new policy will be paid by the employees’ payroll contributions.
How much paid leave do employees get?
The maximum twelve (12) week leave provided for under the new law will be phased in over the next 4 years. The permitted leave and compensation schedule is as follows:
- 2018 – Fifty percent (50%) of the employee’s average weekly wage (not to exceed fifty percent (50%) of New York State’s average weekly wage) for a maximum of eight (8) weeks;
- 2019 – Fifty-five percent (55%) of the employee’s average weekly wage (not to exceed fifty-five percent (55%) of New York State’s average weekly wage) for a maximum of ten (10) weeks;
- 2020 – Sixty percent (60%) of the employee’s average weekly wage (not to exceed sixty percent (60%) of New York State’s average weekly wage) for a maximum of ten (10) weeks; and
- 2021 – Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the employee’s average weekly wage (not to exceed sixty-seven percent (67%) of New York State’s average weekly wage) for a maximum of twelve (12) weeks.
The current “average weekly wage” in New York State for purposes of this law is $1,306.00 (meaning the maximum current benefit is $653.00 per week). Employers were permitted under the statute to commence withholding contributions of no more than $1.65 per week from the pay checks of eligible employees commencing in July 2017.
How does the new statute differ from other federal and state leave laws?
This coverage is unrelated to (and in addition to) New York State’s mandated disability benefits which can provide benefits when an employee is required to miss work because of his/her own injury or illness. The New York paid family leave statute only applies when an employee needs to miss work in order to care for someone else and is much broader than the federal Family and Medical Leave Act which only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.
If you are an employer who wants to be sure that you are complying with the new law, please contact one of our attorneys.
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