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New York Employers Take Notice! New York’s Paid Family Leave Law Just Went Into Effect – Are You Ready?

New York State’s Paid Family Leave Law went into effect on January 1, and it applies to all private employers in the state. It mandates an employee paid insurance policy which provides paid leave for limited circumstances. If you are a New York employer, you must make sure you are in compliance with all of the law’s provision – including obtaining proper coverage through your existing disability insurance policy.

The law gives employees time off for a variety of family-related reasons, including:

  • Bonding with a Child: a parent can take time during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child;
  • Family Care: employees can take time off for a family member’s serious health condition. The law considers “family member” to include spouses, domestic partners, children, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, and grandchildren. A “serious health condition” is defined as “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition” which requires either “inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility;” or “continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.”
  • Active Military Duty Deployment: an employee can take time off to help with obligations which arise when a spouse, child, domestic partner, or parent “is on active military duty abroad or has been notified of an impending call or order of active military duty abroad.”

The benefits provided will increase until 2021, when the phase-in will be complete. In 2018, employees will have eight weeks of paid time off available.  They will be able to receive 50% of their average weekly wage up to a maximum of 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW).  In 2017, the NYSAWW was $1,305.92.  This means employees who earn more than $1,305.92 per week will have their weekly Paid Family Leave benefit capped at $652.96.

In 2019, employees will be able to take up to 10 weeks and will be paid 55% of their average weekly wage up to 55% of the NYSAWW. In 2020, employees will again have up to 10 weeks available, and will be paid 60% of their average weekly wage up to 60% of the NYSAWW.  In 2021, employees will be able to take 12 weeks off, and will be paid 67% of their average weekly wage up to 67% of the NYSAWW. 

An employee’s average weekly wage will be calculated by taking the employee’s “wages for the eight weeks prior to the start of Paid Family Leave, and dividing the total by eight.” Employees who regularly work 20 or more hours per week will be eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits after 26 weeks of employment.  Employees who regularly work fewer than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days worked.

The benefits provided to employees will not cost employers anything (other than the cost of having an employee out for an extended period of time). The coverage can be added to your existing disability insurance policy, and it can be financed entirely through employee payroll deductions.  In 2018, the contribution rate will be “0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, capped at 0.126% of the [NYSAWW].”  However, employers must still ensure they obtain the proper coverage so Paid Family Leave is available to eligible employees.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.