New York Paid Family Leave – What Employers Need to Know

Jan 24, 2018
| David Pearson
What employers must know about New York Paid Family Leave

In review, 2017 was an eventful year for New York HR and employment regulatory compliance, with the Pay Disclosure Order and Salary History Inquiry Ban being two of the most notable. However, 2018 is shaping up to be an even more impactful year for HR regulations.

A prominent HR law that took effect on January 1st is the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFL). This landmark legislation in the state of New York will be phased in over the next four years.

It’s critical for employers – and employees – to fully understand the new law, how it works, who’s eligible for paid family leave, and the benefits associated with it. Ensuring that your business is compliant with the law and prepared for its phase-in aspects will help prevent any HR regulatory issues from occurring.

What is the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law?

Along with Governor Cuomo’s $15 minimum wage bill, the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFL) was signed into law in April 2016. This piece of legislation followed in the footsteps of New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island, all of whom adopted their own paid family leave laws in recent years. However, at this time, New York’s law is billed as the country’s most generous.

Under the law, private employers in New York must offer paid family leave benefits to their workforce. Employees can take paid family leave for three reasons:
  • The birth or adoption of a child (during the first twelve months)
  • Caring for a close relative who has a serious medical condition
  • Assisting with raising a family while someone is deployed for active military duty to a foreign country

For more specifics, click here.

Who’s Eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL) and What Are the Benefits?

The PFL law applies to most New York employers, regardless of size. All New York private sector employers must offer paid family leave. In addition, businesses with employees working in New York for 30 or more days in a calendar year are also required to obtain PFL coverage.

Employees in the state of New York who regularly work at least 20 hours per week and have worked at least 26 consecutive weeks are eligible to receive paid family leave benefits.

In addition, part time employees who work less than 20 hours per week are eligible for PFL benefits after 175 working days with their employer.

Employees who are eligible in New York can take eight weeks of paid leave and receive 50% of their average wage, or the state average weekly wage, whichever is less. Over the next four years, both the amount of time and the wage percentage will increase as part of the phase-in of the law.

When the law is completely in place in 2021, employees will be entitled to twelve weeks of paid family leave and receive 67% of their average wage.

What Rights Do Employees Have While on Paid Family Leave?

When needing to take paid family leave, employees need to provide at least a 30-day notice to their employers. While on PFL, employees must be allowed to continue receiving health insurance through their employer.

When an employee’s paid family leave has ended, the employee must be offered the same role they held prior to taking paid leave or a new, comparable position with similar pay, benefits, and other employment terms.

Most importantly, employers are prohibited from taking retaliatory actions against employees who take paid family leave.

New York Employers Must Comply with the Paid Family Leave Law and its Future Updates

With the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law now in effect, employers in the state must comply with its rules and regulations. Employers must also be prepared for the phase-in aspects of the law that will extend the length of paid family leave and increase the compensation employees will receive while on PFL.

Small business owners in New York can accomplish this by working with HR professionals and compliance experts to help with the PFL laws and future HR regulatory updates. This partnership can help alleviate the burden on the complex HR compliance measures that small business leaders must manage.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your benefits broker for assistance with paid family leave benefits. They will be able to help small businesses find solutions to help with providing paid family leave to their employees.

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