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Paid Family Leave

  • Author: Kathy Barany

    New York State Paid Family's coming.  I have mixed emotions about it, both from an individual's standpoint, and viewing it as an HR Consultant.  And then there is the standpoint of a business owner.  Before I give my professional and personal opinion on this, I think it is prudent to give information on what the PFL is, or plans to be.  Therfore, I have put a summary below.

    The following information is based on the proposed regulations.  Although it is anticipated most of the following will be included in the final regulations, as of the date of this document, the final regulations have not been ratified. 

    • Will apply to all private employers regardless of number of employees. 
    • Will be optional for public employers. 
    • It is managed by the state workers’ compensation board. 
    • Employees have a waiting period of 26 weeks after hire before they are covered under PFL. 
    • Employers need to hold the employee’s job open.  They can hire someone temporarily, but need to give the employee their old job back when they are ready to return to work. 
    • If the employee carries health insurance, the employer has to continue it while the employee is on leave. 
    • It will be implemented in phases. 
    • Eventually employees can receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave.  This will be phased in beginning with allowing them up to 8 weeks the first year (2018).
    • 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. 
    • 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.
      • Care for a family member (spouse, domestic partner, parent, child/step-child/adopted/foster, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, or the parent of a spouse or partner) with a serious health condition.
      • For a qualifying exigency arising from a family member’s military services (as defined in the federal FMLA). 
    • The time off does not have to be consecutive; employees will be able to use a day at a time. 
    • Employers will not be able to require the employee to use paid time off (PTO, vacation, sick, etc.) concurrently with PFL.  Therefore, an employee will be able to take time off and receive PFL benefits; come back to work, and use paid time off benefits. 
    • PFL claims will NOT be reviewed and approved by employers; the insurance carrier will review and approve/deny, much like we do now with NYS disability claims. 
    • NYS PFL and FMLA (Family Medical Leave) will most likely run concurrently.  In other words, an employee could not file for, and collect, PFL, then additionally file for FMLA. 
    • Keep in mind, however, that if an employee has 26 weeks of service, they don’t qualify for FMLA.  However, they can go on PFL, come back to work and fulfill the service requirements for FMLA, then go out on FMLA. 
    • NYS disability and PFL will NOT run concurrently.   For example, if an employee is pregnant, and her physician puts her on 6 weeks of disability, that employee could collect disability benefits, and then go on PFL for up to an additional 12 weeks. 
    • Your current disability insurance company will (most likely) be required to offer a PFL policy in conjunction with your NYS Statutory short-term disability policy. 
    • This PFL policy will most likely be automatically effective January 1, 2018.  Note what we said above about taking premiums starting July 1st
    • Employers can begin collecting premiums from employees effective July 1st, 2017.   Employers can elect pay 100% of the premiums (and not charge the employees). 
    • There will be employer posting requirements.

    Keep in mind this is just a summary; the regulations are 48 pages long.  Right now employers don't need to do anything.  I do encourage you to start thinking about implemenation.  Policies will need to be rewritten; questions need to be answered: employees need to be educated; and more.   Stay tuned for updates.