Paid Family Leave

Mandatory Paid Family Leave (PFL) in New York State goes into effect January 1, 2018.

New York State will have the most comprehensive family leave program in the nation. Here are some things to know about PFL:

  • An employer is permitted but not required to collect the weekly employee contribution as of July 1, 2017, for PFL coverage beginning on January 1, 2018
  • It is implemented as a rider into existing Statutory Disability (DBL) policies, so any employer covered by DBL will be required to provide paid family leave to eligible employees (the Retail Council can provide both DBL and PFL for you!)
  • DBL and PFL must be provided by the same insurance carrier
  • PFL is available to employees of businesses with one or more employees
  • Full-time employees must have worked 26 weeks at current employer to qualify, part-time employees at least 175 days
    • An employee of a covered employer may be provided the option to file a waiver of family leave benefits:
      (i) When his or her regular employment schedule is 20 hours or more per week but the employee will not work 26 consecutive weeks, or
      (ii) When his or her regular employment schedule is less than 20 hours per week and the employee will not work 175 days in a 52 consecutive week period
  • A printed PFL notice will need to be displayed and posted, just like with DBL, as published by New York State later this year
  • Employers must add PFL to their written guidance for employees concerning employee benefits and leave rights, such as an employee handbook
  • The employer pays PFL premium to the insurance carrier and has the option to recoup the cost through employee contributions

Rates for PFL coverage

  • The rate for coverage is 0.126% of the employee’s average weekly wage
  • The contribution is capped at the New York State current average weekly wage (currently $1,305.92), which in 2018 means a maximum employee contribution of $1.65/week, regardless of gender, age, or other factors
  • New York State sets the rate and can change it every year

PFL benefits for employees

  • First year (2018)
    • Eight weeks of paid time off
    • 50% of salary, up to 50% of the state’s average weekly wage
  • Benefit will increase every year for the next four years
    • 2019:  10 weeks leave, 55% avg. wage (max 55% avg. NYS wage)
    • 2020:  10 weeks leave, 50% avg. wage (max 60% avg. NYS wage)
    • 2021:  12 weeks leave, 67% avg. wage (max 67% avg. NYS wage)
    • Benefit amount in effect at the beginning of leave applies to the full duration of leave (i.e., if your leave extends from 12/18-2/19 your benefit would be as per those given for 2018)
  • Leave can be taken in daily increments and at intermittent intervals (e.g., every other Monday)
  • No waiting period as for DBL, but employer should be notified at least 30 days in advance when possible
  • Job protection – Employees are entitled to return to the same/comparable position with no loss of benefits that would have accrued otherwise
  • Employers must maintain employee health insurance during the leave period at usual employee contribution amount

What is considered a qualifying event for PFL?

  • Birth or adoption/fostering of a new child
  • Caring for a family member with a serious illness
  • Caring for a family member after a “qualifying military leave event” (family member on active duty/notified of impending call to duty)
  • Can take PFL for children born/adopted in 2017 after PFL goes into effect
  • Mothers and fathers can take leave when they have a new child in the family

PFL, DBL, PTO, FMLA

  • The difference between DBL and PFL is DBL is taken for the employee’s illness or injury, whereas PFL is taken to care for someone else (such as a parent or child of the employee)
  • Employees cannot take DBL and PFL at the same time, but they can be taken in sequence. Combined DBL and PFL cannot exceed 26 weeks in a consecutive 52 week period for the same event.
  • Employees cannot receive PFL benefits while out on paid time off or sick/vacation days
  • Employers cannot require employees to exhaust their accumulated paid time off (PTO) before letting them go out on paid family leave. (For covered employers also subject to Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): When PFL needs to be coordinated with approved FMLA leave, the employer can require the employee to exhaust accrued PTO.)
  • PFL and FMLA will run concurrently, so PFL cannot be added on to FMLA to extend leave.

 

Contact Ken Rutsky for more details and to find out how the Retail Council can help make sure you’re covered with Paid Family Leave – (800) 442-3589 or krutsky@retailcouncilnys.com.