New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) will be one of the most comprehensive family leave programs in the nation when it takes effect on January 1, 2018. The Paid Family Leave provides more than just a monetary benefit – it provides job security for employees out on paid leave, similar to unpaid leave under FMLA, but regardless of the size of the employer. Paid Family Leave will be implemented as a rider (addition) to New York State DBL (NY’s statutory short-term disability policy). All New York “covered employers” (typically private sector employers with at least 1 employee who have to provide DBL), also have to provide PFL. As such, it covers all those employees who qualify for DBL coverage through their employment. Employers that are exempt from DBL and occupations/employees that are excluded from DBL are also exempt/excluded from PFL – but the employer does have the option to purchase voluntary coverage. The employer cannot refuse to provide the coverage unless the employer is not subject to the regulation (e.g. school districts, municipalities).
Below is an overview of the NYS Paid Family Leave regulation:
- The Paid Family Leave covers full time and part time employees and employees cannot refuse coverage. However, seasonal employees can sign a waiver to avoid employer deductions for PFL coverage. However, if the employee who was originally deemed seasonal is eventually NOT seasonal, he/she must be considered as covered by Paid Family Leave retroactively to the eligibility date and employee deductions would be due.
- Statutory coverage starts on January 1, 2018 with benefits paid at 50% of weekly wages for up to 8 weeks up to the weekly state wage of $1,305.92. Weekly state wage is reviewed and updated annually in July by New York State. Coverage for the percentage of income and number of weeks is modified annually according to a pre-determined schedule until full implementation in 2021:
|Year||Employee Benefit Level|
|2018||8 weeks of leave at 50% of weekly earnings|
|2019||10 weeks of leave at 55% of weekly earnings|
|2020||10 weeks of leave at 60% of weekly earnings|
|2021||12 weeks of leave at 67% of weekly earnings|
- Coverage for PFL will be billed to the employer as an additional coverage within their existing NYS DBL policy. Insurance carriers who provide DBL must also provide PFL.
- Employers may initiate a payroll deduction to recover the cost of providing required PFL coverage to eligible employees.
- The rate for 2018 is .126% of weekly wages up to a maximum of $1.65 per week.
- Employee deductions are taken by the employer on an AFTER tax basis and benefits (if paid) are NOT taxable to employee.
- Benefits due employees for eligible claims are paid by the employer’s NYS DBL carrier.
- Employers are allowed to begin employee deductions 7/1/17 but we recommend beginning deductions on 1/1/2018 and amending DBL policy billing to quarterly for ease of administration when calculating and remitting PFL premiums due.
- New employees are eligible after 26 weeks; part time employees after 175 days
- Premium collection by the employer starts on date of hire.
- Paid Family Leave is NOT intended for the employee’s individual issue but to care for a FAMILY MEMBER’s medical issue:
- Spouse or domestic partner, child, parents and parent in laws.
- Grandparents and grand children
- Siblings are EXCLUDED.
- If for Military Exigency, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings are EXCLUDED
- The paid leave can be taken by eligible employees in one (1) day increments or full week increments up to the maximum weeks allowed with certain conditions:
- Foreseeable leave requires that the employee provide the employer with 30 days advance notice (i.e. bonding leave). In unforeseeable events, the employee must notify the employer as soon as practicable, same or next business day.
- Advance notice to the carrier providing Paid Family Leave coverage is not required.
- The claim form has three (3) sections similar to DB450 - Employer, Employee, Physician
- The employer completes their section and then gives the form to employee to complete and obtain the physician information.
- The employee submits the claim form to the insurance carrier, not to the employer.
- Insurance carrier then has 18 days to accept or deny the claim.
- The employer does NOT pay the employee for the days they are claiming PFL; employer only pays the employee for any non PFL days.
- Employer cannot require employee to use PTO during Paid Family Leave.
Checklist for Employers:
- Supply the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board’s prescribed PFL notice to hand out with benefit coverage and claim filing details (not released yet).
- Add PFL verbiage to the employee handbook. Update all internal materials to include PFL.
- Conspicuously post the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board’s prescribed notice, which explains PFL benefits (not released yet).
- Remind employees that they must give 30 days prior notice to take PFL if the event is foreseeable, such as maternity leave or military deployment.
- If your employee is out on FMLA, you must provide them with notice of their eligibility for PFL.
Please do not hesitate to contact Watertown Insurance Services at 315-785-0000 with any questions regarding New York PFL. There is also an abundance of information about PFL coverage and rules available at the following website: nypaidleave.com »