Sound Advice – Paid Family Leave
New York to pass most comprehensive Paid Family Leave law in country.
In today’s two parent family, both spouses typically work to support the family’s lifestyle. In single parent households, there is usually no choice except to work full-time or even multiple jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes, retired grandparents or other family members are available to step in if a child is sick so the parents don’t need to use their vacation time to stay home.
This arrangement is manageable on a short term basis such as several days to a week. However, most working families would be faced with a major financial dilemma if there were a major health crisis involving one of the partners, a child, or an elderly parent or grandparent requiring weeks of leave. That’s where New York’s new Paid Family Leave law steps in to provide job security for employees taking paid leave to care for a sick or injured family member or new family member.
This PFL law (not to be confused with the Federal Family Medical Leave Act which is unpaid) mandates that employers offering statutory disability coverage (DBL) now offer Paid Family Leave (PFL) as well. It also requires that both coverages be purchased from the same insurance company. According to the new regulations, PFL becomes part of the DBL policy as a rider, meaning that there will no longer be “just DBL alone” coverage written in New York. Exception: exempt employers such as municipalities, schools and unions which may choose to offer standalone PFL.
Paid Family Leave will phase in over the next 4 years, gradually increasing the leave period’s duration and benefit amount. The length of time allowed as of 1/1/18 will be 8 weeks at half pay. These amounts grow to 12 weeks and 67% of salary by 1/1/21. Unlike Workers’ Comp disability, the leave need not be taken all at once. For example, if siblings take turns caring for an elderly parent who had a debilitating accident, the employee could take off every Monday, if that was his/her assigned day.
There are three categories of qualifying events an employee may be paid for. These include:
- Providing care to a family member with a serious health condition
- Bonding leave after giving birth, adoption, or welcoming a child into foster care
- Qualifying military event, such as an impending deployment of a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent.
Full-time employees must have worked 26 weeks at their current job to qualify for PFL. There is no “waiting/elimination period”, however 30 days notice to the employer is required, unless the event is of an emergency nature, such as a heart attack or accident. Part-time employees may be covered if they have worked 175 days at their current employer. Their benefits will be pro-rated proportionately based on the hours they work.
Employees pay for PFL through payroll deduction, same as for their disability coverage. Employers may choose to cost-share with employees, paying a percentage of the premium. Employers must pay the PFL premium for their entire group whether they withhold from employees or not. Deductions cannot be made retroactively nor can the employer deduct more than the maximum employee contribution amount.
Rates have not yet been set. Please contact us at 631-727-4114 or email us here for more information on how PFL may impact your business and your employees.