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New York Adopts Paid Family Leave; Watch Out – Your State Might be Next

On April 4, 2016, New York became the fifth state to mandate paid family leave. California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington already have laws on this topic.

Under the new law, after 26 weeks of employment, employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of partially paid family leave which is defined as leave:

– To participate in providing care, including physical or psychological care, for a family member of the employee made necessary by a serious health condition (as defined by the Family Medical Leave Act “FMLA”) of the family member; or
– To bond with the employee’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, or the first 12 months after the placement of the child for adoption or foster care with the employee; or
– Because of any qualifying exigency (as defined under the FMLA) arising out of the fact that the spouse, domestic partner, child or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Benefits will be phased in over time beginning in 2018 at 50% of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped at 50% of the statewide average weekly wage, and fully implemented in 2021 at 67% of their average weekly wage, capped at 67% of the statewide average weekly wage. At the outset in 2018, employees will be entitled to 8 weeks of paid leave, increasing to 12 weeks of paid leave by January 1, 2021.

These benefits will be funded through a $1 per employee weekly payroll deduction. Thus, they cost the employer nothing. This was a huge selling point for the law’s passage. Additionally, this program covers both full-time and part-time employees and there are no exemptions for small businesses. Moreover, both men and women will be entitled to the paid leave.

Employers in states outside of New York should take notice, as Washington D.C. and Connecticut are expected to adopt similar laws next. In fact, there are similar movements across the country in Oklahoma, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Missouri, Vermont, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire.

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on the FMLA, New York leave, as well as employment law issues in general. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560