New York State Paid Family Leave enshrines a legal framework to protect the right of employees to care for their families under certain conditions. Specifically, the law now provides job protection and paid time off so employees can:
- take care of and bond with a newborn, adopted, or fostered child;
- take care of a relative with a serious health condition; or
- help family members when a relative is deployed abroad on active military service.
Are your employees eligible?
- If they are a full-time employee in New York State with a regular work schedule of 20+ hours per week, they will become eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
- If they work part time, i.e. their regular work schedule is less than 20 hours per week, they will become eligible after 175 working days (not necessarily consecutive).
While the law is now in effect, it will take four years to reach its maximum extent. For instance, while in 2018 employees will be eligible for up to eight weeks of Paid Family Leave, this will rise to 10 weeks in 2019 and 2020, and finally 12 weeks in 2021.
How can I be a good employer?
- Make sure your company has Paid Family Leave! You have of course done this already. There’s a useful list of insurers with Paid Family Leave policies on the NY Department of Financial Services.
- Let your team know. Make sure you have updated your employee handbooks and issued clear communications to existing employees. A team informed of their rights is a team empowered; a team empowered is a happy one.
- Update your payroll processes. What your employees will contribute is currently capped at 0.126% of the annual New York State Average Weekly Wage, or about $1.65 per week (it will be less if their weekly wage is below the average). To figure out the deductions, there is a handy calculator on the New York State website.
- You may have employees who don’t fit the bill for Paid Family Leave, i.e. if their time-worked requirement is not met. They have the option to waive coverage. You can download the waiver form here – make sure you keep a copy of all completed waivers on file.
- Make sure that Form PFL-120, which should be provided to you by your insurance carrier, is posted in plain view somewhere in your office, like the similar notices for workers’ compensation and disability insurance.
The good news
Many businesses were placated when Paid Family Leave was announced by the news that these new legal benefits would be funded from the employee payroll. But it’s also conducive to a happy, productive workplace:
- Paid leave increases morale in the workplace as well as workforce retention.
- Parental leave reform is well overdue in the US.
- The current cap for employee contributions (about $1.65 per week) is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
New regulations pose new challenges to companies. As such, we stand ready to assist your company in navigating any compliance challenges with Paid Family Leave.
Written by Tim Davis, who is a Partner in the New York office of Rooney Nimmo. He specializes in Corporate and Financial matters, Employment and Executive Compensation. If you have any queries about this bulletin or your company’s rights under US or new laws, please email Tim or call on 212-545-8022.
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