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Updates Announced to New York State’s Paid Family Leave Program for 2019

Compliance
Article
10/24/2018
  • Qualified employees eligible for up to 10 weeks of paid family leave time
  • Employee contribution to program increases
  • The benefits for 2019 increases to 55 percent of the employees’ average weekly wage up to a maximum of $746.41 per week.

The state of New York announced the most recent updates to the NYS paid family leave (PFL), which provides job-protected leave to eligible full-time and part-time employees for certain qualifying reasons.

The legislation established a four-year phase-in cycle for benefits for employees who take leave for any of the following qualified reasons:

  • Bonding with his/her child within 12 months of the birth or placement (for adoption or foster care);
  • Caring for a covered family member with a serious health condition; or
  • Dealing with certain exigencies arising when a covered family member is called to active military service.

New York State Paid Family Leave is an insurance program, similar in many ways to the state’s short term disability insurance program.  However, the NYS PFL may be funded exclusively by employees through payroll deductions. In 2019, the employee contribution will increase to 0.153 percent of an employee’s gross wages each pay period with a maximum annual contribution of $107.97. Employees earning less than the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) of $1,357.11 (announced last April) will contribute less than the annual cap ($107.97), consistent with their actual wages.

For example, covered employees earning $519 per week (or $27,000 per year) will contribute through payroll deduction about 79 cents ($519 x 0.153%) per week. While employees earning the actual SAWW of $1,357.11 (or $70,569.72 per year) or more will contribute through payroll deduction about $2.07 ($1,357.11 x 0.153%) per week until they reach the maximum of $107.97 for the year.

The number of weeks available for eligible employees increases by two – to 10 weeks – in 2019. Additionally, employees will be eligible to receive 55 percent of their average weekly wage (AWW) during a qualified leave or 55 percent of the New York SAWW, whichever is lower – an increase of 5 percent.

The maximum weekly benefit for 2019 is $746.41.

The length of time available and the benefits provided, which began Jan. 1, 2018, will continue to expand through 2021. 

Year

Weeks Available

The Lesser of % of Employee Average Weekly Wage (below)
and the NYS AWW (announced each year on July 1)

2018

8

50%

2019

10

55%

2020

10

60%

2021

12

67%

For more information on the latest updates, check out the state’s Paid Family Leave updates online.

The Basics of New York State’s Paid Family Leave Program

The state released final implementing regulations in July 2017, confirming that employees who regularly work 20 hours or more each week will become eligible for NYS PFL after working 26 consecutive weeks for their covered employer. Employees who regularly work less than 20 hours per week will become eligible on the 175th day of employment with a covered employer. Employers are required to provide employees who are not expected to be eligible for PFL coverage with an opt-out PFL waiver. For more information about the opt-out waiver and the process for requesting PFL leave, employers are encouraged to review the sample forms and final regulations which may be accessed on the NYS Paid Family Leave website.

New York and just five  other states and the District of Columbia have passed paid family leave legislation: California and New Jersey, which each provide six weeks off; Rhode Island, which offers four weeks of leave time; the state of Washington passed legislation that provides paid family leave benefits as of 2020; Massachusetts also passed legislation in 2018 that established paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a family member. That benefit is available for covered employees beginning in 2021; and D.C., which will provide eligible employees with up to six weeks of paid leave once available in 2020.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), passed in 1993, entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage. The FMLA:

  • Does not apply to businesses with fewer than 50 employees
  • Requires eligible employees to have completed at least 12 months of employment; and
  • Covers only employees who have worked a certain number of hours in the previous 12 months.

The reasons for leave also include an employee’s own serious health condition.

Small Cost for New York Employees, No Cost to New York Employers
 

New York's PFL program is intended to ensure that "working families should never have to choose between caring for their loved ones and keeping their paycheck."

Covered employers, any private employer with one or more employee working in NYS, are required to carry NYS PFL insurance coverage, a rider to their existing NYS DBL insurance. Employers may also have the option to self-insure. The NYS PFL program is designed to be funded through employee payroll deductions; however, employers may choose to cover the cost of PFL insurance premium payments, and not deduct contributions from employees.

An earlier version of this article was published on Nov. 10, 2017.

 

Tammy Tyler

Tammy Tyler is a senior compliance analyst with a focus on employment law at Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated solutions for payroll, HR, retirement, and insurance services.

This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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