Ivanka Trump isn’t the only advocate for paid family leave. In fact, Governor Cuomo signed into law the New York State Paid Family Leave Program (PFL) in 2016. It’s effective starting January 1, 2018, so if you are an employer in New York State, it’s time to get ready for the new law.
The basis for the law is different than the usual benefit that pays for an employee’s injury or illness. PFL pays if an employee has to take care of someone else in his/her immediate family. And that includes a newborn child.
If you are a private business with at least one employee (not counting the owner), you are required to cover your employees in this new program. It is fully funded by employees but businesses will be obligated to deduct premiums from their paychecks. Those deductions can begin on or about July 1, 2017.
Though the program is employee funded, employers may not discriminate against employees who take the leave. They must be guaranteed job protection and health insurance. So employers are obligated to pay health insurance premiums while their employee is on Paid Family Leave. However, employees who contribute will still be obligated to pay their share of their health insurance premium.
Eligibility is based on full-time employment for 26 weeks or part-time employment for 175 days.
NYS Paid Family Leave Benefits
The law phases in benefits over four years. It’s an 8 week benefit in 2018, 10 weeks in 2019-20, and 12 weeks in 2021. When fully phased in this will be the longest and most comprehensive paid family leave program in the country.
The percentage of average weekly wage paid will also be phased in: 50% in 2018, then 55%, 60%, and finally 67% in 2021.
Paid Family Leave pays for:
- Maternity and Paternity Leave
- Caring for a Close Relative with a Serious Health Condition
- Active Duty Deployment
Employer Obligations under PFL
Employers are required to purchase a PFL policy or self-insure, with the premium being paid by the employee. The PFL coverage will be added to the employer’s current statutory short-term disability insurance policy (DBL).
It’s that easy. In other words, if you’re an employer, the PFL coverage and premium payments will be added to your current New York State DBL policy.
Premiums are calculated at 0.126% of the employee’s weekly wage. That amount is capped at New York State’s current average weekly wage of $1,305.92. So, the maximum weekly contribution for your employee is $1.65 per week.
As stated above, this is an employee funded program. However, employers can opt out of payroll deduction and pay the premium for their employees.
When an employee files for PFL, the employer is responsible to complete his/her section of the claim form. And remember, the employer is not responsible for paying an employee’s wages while on leave. The employee receives benefits directly from the DBL policy.
New Jersey has had a successful PFL program since 2012. New York joins California, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC in offering Paid Family Leave.
You can learn more about the NYS paid family leave program here. We expect a smooth implementation for our clients but please call us with questions. Feel free to call even if you’re not a client, we are glad to help.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
SZW Insurance is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.