New York Enacts Paid Family Leave Program

New York State has passed legislation that will require all private employers to provide employees with paid family leave.

Insurance Options:  Employers will be required to purchase a paid family leave insurance policy or self-insure. The premium for the policy will be funded solely by employees through a payroll deduction.

Maximum Contributions:  The premium rate and the maximum employee contribution for coverage beginning January 1, 2018 is set at 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage up to and not to exceed the statewide average weekly wage (currently $1,305.92), meaning a maximum weekly contribution for 2018 of $1.65.

Payroll Deductions:  Withholding will automatically begin for eligible employees starting January 1, 2018. Starting July 1, 2017, voluntary employee deductions can be taken for the 2018 coverage period.

Employee Eligibility and Notice:  To be eligible for the benefit, employees must generally work full-time for their employer for at least 26 consecutive weeks or part-time for at least 175 days. When the need for family leave is foreseeable, employees must generally provide at least 30 days notice to their employer.

Use of Leave:  Beginning January 1, 2018, employees may use paid family leave:

  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • To bond with the employee’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or after the placement of the child for adoption or foster care; or
  • Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the armed forces of the United States.

Benefit Caps:

Year:   Duration:         Wage Replacement:
2018   8 weeks           50%
2019   10 weeks         55%
2020   10 weeks         60%
2021   12 weeks         67%
Wage Replacement is based on the lessor of the employee’s average weekly wage or the statewide average wage.

Vacation and Personal Leave:  Employers may offer employees the option of using any accrued, unused paid vacation or personal leave during family leave and receive their full salary. Employers that pay employees their full salary during family leave may request reimbursement from the insurance carrier.

Compliance Recommendations:  Employers with employees in New York State should review their policies, forms, practices, and supervisor training and/or consult with their insurance professional and legal advisor to ensure compliance with the new paid family leave program.