New York Paid Family Leave Act Goes Into Effect January 1, 2018

On January 1, 2018, the New York Paid Family Leave Act (“PFLA”) goes into effect. The PFLA allows employees to take paid family leave for a number of situations, including the birth of a child, placement of a child in adoption/foster care situations, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or due to a military exigency for an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

The PLFA applies to employers who employ one or more employees at least 30 days in any calendar year, as well as employers who employ one or more domestic full time employees.  The PFLA covers full time employees (who regularly work 20 or more hours per week), as well as part-time employees who work less than 20 hours per week (part-time employees can file for a waiver of PLFA benefits). Both full and part time employees must have worked for a defined period of time to be eligible for paid leave.

The PLFA sets forth the amount of cash benefits an employee is entitled to when taking paid leave. Starting January 1, 2018, an employee taking family leave is entitled to receive at least 50% of their average weekly wage, or 50% of the state average weekly wage (whichever is less). This percentage increases each year, eventually increasing to 67% by January 1, 2018.
Similarly, the length of time an employee is eligible for family leave increases over time.  Starting January 1, 2018, an employee is entitled to at least eight weeks of paid leave during any 52 week calendar period, and this period increases to at least twelve weeks by January 1, 2021. Paid leave time can be taken in weekly or daily increments. 

In situations when paid leave is taken for the birth of child, an employee can only take family leave during the 52 week period following the birth.  An employee is entitled to receive both disability and family leave benefits during the post-partum period, but not at the same time. Prior to taking leave, if taking leave for an expected event (such as the birth of a child), an employee must provide notice at least 30 days in advance. If the leave is for an unexpected event, notice must be given as soon as possible. 

Starting January 1, 2018, an employer must collect weekly employee contributions for paid family leave coverage.  Employers are also required to include information regarding the PFLA in their employee handbook (or give written guidance to each employee), and post information concerning the PFLA in a public place. An employee’s health insurance must be continued during leave.

Prior to January 1, 2018, employers should take the necessary steps to prepare for the implementation of PFLA, including preparing to collect employee contributions, updating employee handbooks, and posting adequate notice in order to make employees aware of their rights and responsibilities under the PFLA. For further information concerning the PLFA, contact the Ali Law Group.