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New York State Paid Family Leave Program Reaches Maximum Benefits Level

New York state completed its four-year phase-in of its Paid family Leave program, which provides job-protected leave to eligible full-time and part-time employees for certain qualifying reasons.
nys paid family leave

The New York State Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, which provides job-protected leave to full-time and part-time employees for certain qualifying reasons, has undergone several changes since its implementation in January 2018.

During the four-year phase-in cycle for benefits, the program has provided additional time off and an increase in wage replacement (percentage of average weekly wage) each year for the following qualified reasons:

  • Bonding with newly born child within 12 months of the birth or placement (e.g., adoption or foster care)
  • Caring for a covered family member with a serious health condition
  • Dealing with certain exigencies arising when a covered family member is called to active military service in a foreign country

Paid Family Leave in New York also might be available for use for COVID-19-related purposes. Additional details are available about the guarantees of job protection and compensation if an employee or minor dependent child must quarantine or isolate.

How is NY State Paid Family Leave Funded?

New York State Paid Family Leave is an insurance program that may be funded exclusively by employees through payroll deductions. The contribution per pay period in 2022 is just more than half of 1 percent of an employee’s gross wages (0.511%), with an annual contribution cap of $423.71. However, any employee who earns less than the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) of $1,594.57 would contribute less and that amount would be consistent with their actual wages.

For example, if an employee earns $1,000 per week ($52,000 annually), the individual will pay $5.11 per week ($1,000 x 0.511%). 

For 2021 and beyond, employees who take PFL will receive 67% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 67% of the SAWW. So, the maximum weekly benefit in 2022 is $1,068.36, which is almost $100 more than the previous year’s maximum. 

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 and beyond

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

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 non-consecutive working day when employed by 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.

NY State PFL provides protections for employees while they care for family members, including:

  • Job protection: Employees are entitled to return to the same (or comparable) job when they return from PFL.
  • Health insurance: Employees can keep this benefit under the same terms while on leave.
  • Prohibited: Employees may not be discriminated or retaliated against by employers for requesting or taking PFL.

What Employers Should Know About NYS Paid Family Leave

Covered employers, any private employer with one or more employees working in New York state, 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.

Tammy Tyler

Tammy Tyler is an employment law compliance manager at Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated solutions for payroll, HR, retirement, and insurance services.

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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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