On 4/4/2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a state-wide paid family leave act that will require employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid, job-protected leave to (1) care for a new child (including adopted and foster children), (2) care for a family member with a serious medical condition, or (3) relieve family pressures when a family member is called to active military service. To date, this is the most comprehensive paid family leave program in the country.
Who is Eligible?
Most full-time and part-time employees in New York will be eligible after they have worked for their employer for at least 6 months. If an individual is covered by New York’s Temporary Disability Policy, s/he will also be covered under the new Paid Family Leave program. Additionally, all eligible employees will be covered regardless of their employer’s size.
If paid leave is taken to care for a new child, both men and women are be eligible for paid leave within the first 12 months of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement.
When is the Law Effective?
The legislation is effective 1/1/2018 and will be phased in gradually.
How Much Will Employees Receive?
Beginning 1/1/2018, employers will be required to provide up to 8 weeks of paid leave at 50% of the employee’s average weekly wages. The paid leave requirement will increase to 10 weeks at a rate of 55% in 2019, 10 weeks at a rate of 60% in 2020, and finally, up to 12 weeks of paid leave at 67% in 2021. Funding for the program will be entirely through employee payroll deductions, so there will be no direct cost to employers. The legislation also provides job protection for all employees taking paid family leave and requires that the employer continue to offer health care benefits while the employee is out on leave.
How Will the Law be Enforced?
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who has exercised his/her rights under the new law.
Since the New York Paid Family Leave Law was recently signed into legislation and the first phase of implementation will not begin until 1/1/2018, there are still some unanswered questions regarding the application of the law. We will continue to provide additional guidance as it becomes available.
For more information on the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits law, please visit the New York State website. To access the text of the law, please refer to Part SS of the 2016 to 2017 New York State Budget.
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