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New York's New Laws

  • Author: Kathy Barany

    You have probably seen the news about the new legislation in New York State, with regard to the minimum wage and family leave, that has been approved by Governor Cuomo.  Below is a summary of those laws.  I have mixed emotions on these.....  I think the negative impact they will have on very small busiensses will be horrendous.  I think the positive impact they will have on employee relations will be questionnable.   Sometimes the more employees are given, the more they want.  Having said that, my "job" is to inform my clients of the facts and practicle applications of the laws, so I am doing that here. 

    There are a lot of questions surrounding how to administer the paid family leave.   There are no answers right now.  Eventually NYS will issue guidelines for implementation that will hopefully answer at least some of these questions.

    Don’t panic yet, but do look into the future and think about how it might affect you.

    Minimum Wage (In places other than New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties) 

    • This applies to all workers in all industries
    • The hourly minimum wage will increase as follows:
      • $9.70 at the end of 2016
      • $10.40 at the end of 2017
      • $11.10 at the end of 2018
      • $11.80 at the end of 2019
      • $12.50 12/31/2020
    • Thereafter, the DOL will set an indexed schedule for it to increase to $15.00
    • Beginning in 2019 NYS will conduct an annual analysis of the economy to determine if continuing the increase is still viable, or if it should be suspended temporarily.

     Paid Family Leave 

    • It will apply to all employers regardless of number of employees.
      • It appears it will optional for public employers (as opposed to it being mandatory).
    • Employees can participate in the program after they have been employed by their employer for 6 months.
    • Employees will be able to take time off to:
      • Bond with an infant during the first 12 months following birth, adoption, or foster care.
        • Employers will be able to request proof of birth, adoption, or foster care.
      • Care for a family member (ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, or the parent of a spouse partner) with a serious health condition.
        • Employers will be able to request proof of disability for covered family members, and will be able to request documentation that the employee is a primary care giver.
      • Help out with taking care of personal issues (financial, child care, etc.) when a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent is called to active military service.
        • Employers will be able to request proof of call to active duty.
    • It will be implemented in phases
      • The first phase will begin in 2018.  Employees will be able to receive 50% of their average weekly wage.  This will be capped at 50% of the statewide average weekly wage.
      • It will increase each year until 2021.  At that time, it will be capped at 67% of an employee’s average weekly wage.  That amount will be capped to 67% of the statewide average weekly wage.
    • The program will work similar to NYS statutory disability insurance. 
    • There will be a waiting period similar to NYS disability for the employee’s own disability.
    • No waiting period for family care leave.
    • Employees will have similar job protection to that of FMLA (guaranteed job upon return).
    • Employees will pay a premium.
    • Employees who work for companies large enough to be covered under the federal FMLA will NOT be eligible for two different leaves; FMLA and NY’s paid family leave will run concurrently.

    Disclaimer:       The above information came from the actual Bill.  It could change slightly by the time the regulations are published.