Beginning January 1, 2018, all companies with employees who work in New York State must comply with the new Paid Family Leave (PFL) program.  

PFL is designed to provide a substantial new benefit for employees.  At the same time, there are many legal compliance and administrative details to the new program that you will have to learn quickly.   

Here are the 7 things you need to know right now and the next steps to take so that you will be in legal compliance come January 1 and beyond.

1.  PFL will be funded by employee deductions, just like existing NY Short-Term Disability (STD).  In 2018, $1.65 per week will be deducted from employee paychecks for PFL.

2.  All employees who work in New York will be covered after 26 weeks employment, or 175 hours if they work less than 20 hours per week.  Temporary or seasonal employees who don’t meet these criteria can opt out.

3.  PFL benefits will cover up to 8 weeks of paid leave at 50% of average weekly salary up to a maximum weekly benefit of $652.96.  The amount of leave and salary will increase every year until 2021.

4.  Leave can be taken to care for others – a newborn or adopted child, a family member with a serious health condition, or obligations arising because of a family member’s active military service.  PFL should not be confused with short-term disability.  STD will still be in place, it is used to care for your own illness or injury (as opposed to caring for others).

5.  Employees are guaranteed to be able to return to their same or comparable job upon return from leave and continue their health insurance during the leave.

6.  Who is not covered?  Employees who do not work in New York (even if they live there), independent contractors, and seasonal/temporary employees who don’t meet the eligibility requirements.

7.  By law, employers must ensure that their employees are aware of the PFL program, and that their organizational policies comply with the law.  You must also display a poster regarding PFL coverage in your workplace. 

What steps do you need to take now?

 1.  Contact your existing insurer or broker to add PFL coverage to your existing disability policy.

2.  Check with your payroll provider to ensure that they will make the proper deductions come January 1, 2018.

3.  Update your employee handbook policies to include this new benefit.  

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Conclusion

The New York Paid Family Leave Act is a substantial new benefit for employees who work in New York State.  Understanding this new program and taking a few steps now will put you in compliance when it takes effect on January 1, 2018.

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