Law Working Parent

What You Need to Know About New York Paid Family Leave

December 6, 2017
Paid Family Leave

Chances are, if you live in New York State, you’ve heard about New York’s Paid Family Leave policies, which take effect January 1, 2018.

With this policy change, New York will join California, Washington, New Jersey, and Rhode Island as the only states in the U.S. offering a form of paid family leave.

This is, of course, great news for New York families who have until this point had to cobble time together for their leave, relying on pieces from disability insurance, FMLA, vacation time, and so forth.

This is also good news for employers since research shows paid family saves employers money.

There are several terrific resources out there for employers, employees, and healthcare providers to learn about what these changes mean for them. However, locating, navigating, and understanding this information can be a challenge.

It’s not my goal to re-invent the wheel, so in this post, I will be linking helpful resources and providing succinct explanations regarding what these changes mean.

Like my Working Parent Resources page, the goal is to create a library of resources along with the reasons they are helpful.

As always, although I am an attorney licensed in New York, this blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Always contact an attorney directly if you are in need of legal advice.

paid family leave

Paid Family Leave: What it Means for You

paid family leave

In general: New York’s Paid Family Leave program “provides wage replacement to employees to help them bond with a child, care for a close relative with a serious health condition, or help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.” Source: New York State Paid Family Leave.

The program covers both men and women, meaning both mothers and fathers will be eligible for paid family leave.

These laws also guarantee that an employee can return to their job following leave and continue their health insurance.

How much leave does the law provide? New York’s Paid Family Leave is scheduled to phase in over four years, starting January 1, 2018 with up to 8 weeks of leave per year and resulting in up to 12 weeks of leave offered by 2021.

The New York Paid Family Leave website provides a chart of the official schedule on its “Timeline” page.

In sum, the length of leave will increase yearly in accordance with the following:

  • 2018: up to 8 weeks of leave
  • 2019: up to 10 weeks of leave
  • 2020: up to 10 weeks of leave
  • 2021: up to 12 weeks of leave

How much are employees paid while on leave? Wages will be capped based on the statewide average weekly wage. The wage percentage employees will receive under the law will start at 50% in 2018 and increase to a max benefit of 67% of the average weekly wage in 2021.

The New York Paid Family Leave website provides a chart of the official schedule on its “Timeline” page.

A Better Balance also provides a helpful explanation of this point in its One-Page Overview of the New York Paid Family Leave Program.

In sum, the percentage benefits will increase yearly in accordance with the following:

  • 2018: 50% of weekly wage up to a cap of 50% of the statewide average weekly wage
  • 2019: 55% of weekly wage up to  a cap of 55% of the statewide average weekly wage
  • 2020: 60% of weekly wage up to  a cap of 60% of the statewide average weekly wage
  • 2021: 67% of weekly wage up to  a cap of 67% of the statewide average weekly wage

As you can see, although the length of leave does not increase between 2019 and 2020, the benefit percentage does.

What does the cap mean for employees and what is the statewide average weekly wage?

Baby Caravan, LLC posted an easy-to-follow guide for understanding New York Paid Family Leave, and included a helpful breakdown of how workers will be affected by the cap.

As Baby Caravan‘s post on New York Paid Leave aptly explains:

“For example, if in 2018 you earn $1200 weekly, then you’d receive $600 per week in paid leave benefits.

Benefits are capped at the percentage of state average weekly wage. The AWW for [2018] is $1,305.92. So the maximum benefit for paid family leave in 2018 is $652.96, since the benefits is 50% pay. For individuals who earn above $1305.92 per week, knowing what this cap is will be helpful for budgeting purposes.”

Those figures would change with the percentage caps each year until 2021.

Is the program mandatory? According to New York Paid Family Leave, “the program is not optional for most employees. The exception is if you are in a job that will not allow you to attain the 26 continuous weeks or 175 days needed to qualify for Paid Family Leave (for example a seasonal worker).”

Baby Caravan provides an additional list of exempt workers under its “What Are The Exemptions” heading here as does the New York Paid Family Leave website under its FAQ and Eligibility sections.

These exempt workers include: independent contractors (unless they pay for their own coverage), farm laborers, clergy, public sector unions (unless paid leave benefits are collectively bargained for), and individuals who are collecting workers’ compensation benefits and not currently working.

How are benefits funded? Benefits are funded through small employee payroll deductions, meaning a small percentage of an employee’s income will be deducted per paycheck. The New York Paid Family Leave website provides an online calculator to view an estimate of your weekly payroll deduction HERE.

To be clear, these are nominal amounts to pay for the benefits received. In fact, the weekly payroll deductions are equal to just 0.126% of your weekly wage.

For example, if your weekly income is $2,000, your weekly Paid Family Leave payroll deduction is estimated to be $1.65.

Does the program affect private leave benefits offered by employers? New York’s Paid Family Leave policy provides a floor, not a ceiling. As such, additional employer benefits can be combined with or stacked on top of the paid leave offered by the state.

Additional Information and Where to Find it

paid family leave

For information on what kind of family care is covered, visit:

New York Paid Family Leave “Eligibility” Section

A Better Balance’s “Important News for New & Expecting Parents in New York

A Better Balance’s “Overview of the New York Paid Family Leave Program”

For additional information on how employees benefit, visit:

New York Paid Family Leave Employee Fact Sheet

Family Leave Works by A Better Balance

Paid Family Leave – Provide 12 Weeks of Paid Leave

For information on how Paid Family Leave benefits employers, visit:

Paid Family Leave Insurance: Benefiting New York Businesses

Busting the Myths on Paid Family Leave

New York Small Businesses Need Paid Family Leave

For Even More Information, visit:

“Get The Facts” by the New York State Paid Leave Coalition

To Contact Someone about New York Paid Family Leave, call or visit: 

To Contact New York Paid Family Leave

Call: 844-337-6303

Contact A Better Balance Online

Or Call: 1-833-NEED-ABB

If you found this post helpful, be sure to share with family, friends, and colleagues!

Disclaimer: This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Always contact an attorney directly if you are in need of legal advice.

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