New York Enacts Paid Family Leave Law

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We’ve spent the last few weeks combing through Paid Family Leave draft regulations to pull out the most important information, so you don’t have to. Here are your absolute must-knows based on the drafts:

  1. NY PFL is one of the most comprehensive paid family leave programs in the country.
  2. All New York “covered employers” (typically private sector employers with 1+ employees who have to provide statutory disability insurance, commonly referred to as DBL), have to provide PFL as well.
    1.  As such, it covers all those employees who currently get DBL through their employment.
  3. Paid Family Leave phases in over 4 years with a gradually increasing benefit amount and duration. Benefits are calculated according to the following chart for full-time employees (as well as part-time**** employees taking paid leave in weekly increments.) Full-time employment assumes  5 work days per week:

 

Benefit Stage Effective Date* Maximum Length of Paid Leave Maximum Benefit Amount***
Payable % of Employee’s Average Weekly Wage (AWW) To the Maximum % of NY Average Weekly Wage $ Max based on current NY AWW  of $1,305.92**
01/01/2018 8 weeks 50% 50% $652.96
01/01/2019 10 weeks 55% 55% $718.26
01/01/2020 10 weeks 60% 60% $783.55
01/01/2021 12 weeks 67% 67% $874.97

*While this is the anticipated phase-in schedule, New York State may delay implementation at its discretion.
**NY Department of Labor releases the updated statewide AWW by March 31 for the previous calendar year.
***Business owners (who don’t have employees) and self-employed people with voluntary coverage follow a different Maximum Benefit Amount formula

****Part-time employees taking leave in daily increments have “pro-rated” benefits.​

  1. Paid Family Leave provides job security for employees taking paid leave, similar to unpaid leave under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  2. PFL becomes part of DBL policy (in form of a rider) – this means:
    1. there will no longer be “just DBL alone” without PFL
    2. both DBL and PFL must be from the same insurance carrier
  3. Employers who are exempt from DBL, such as municipalities, schools, and unions can choose to provide stand-alone PFL.
  4. Sole proprietors and partners in LLCs/LLPs can get voluntary Paid Family Leave coverage similar to how they obtained their voluntary DBL coverage.
  5. Employees pay for PFL through payroll deduction, but employers are not required to collect employee contributions. Paid Family Leave law does not require employers to fund PFL, however, employers are obligated to remit premium whether deductions are collected from their employees or paid directly by the employer.
  6. Employers must pay the PFL premium for their entire group whether they withhold from employees or not. As such employers can’t make Paid Family Leave deductions from employees retro-actively or withhold more than the maximum allowed employee contribution.
  7. Starting in 2018, updated PFL rates are set by New York State by September 1 of each year for the following calendar year.
  8. Paid Family Leave rates have not yet been released.   They will be community rated as either a defined dollar amount per week per employee, or a percentage of employee’s wages up to a cap. The actual rate classification methodology is yet to be determined and could range anywhere from single to 3-tiered approach.
  9. Full-time employees must have worked at least 26 weeks at their current employer to qualify for PFL.
    1. Part-timers must have worked at least 175 days at their current employer; and their benefits are pro-rated proportionately based on hours worked.
  10. Paid leave can be taken in daily increments, and – unlike Workers’ Comp – in intermittent intervals, such as every other Monday.
  11. There is no “waiting/elimination period” but 30 days notice to employers notice is required for foreseeable leave. If this is not possible due to the circumstances (such as an accident or heart attack), then the notification needs to happen as soon as practicable.
  12. An employee can’t take DBL and PFL at the same time, i.e. receive benefits for both concurrently. They have to be taken in sequence. And if an employee qualifies for both, the combined duration may not exceed 26 weeks in a consecutive 52-week period for the same qualifying event.
  13. There are 3 main categories of qualifying events an employee can take paid leave for:
    1. Providing care for a family member with a serious health condition
      1. The common cold or taking off for general doctor visits don’t qualify – the person being cared for must meet definition of a “serious health condition”.
    2. Bonding leave after giving birth, adoption, or welcoming a child into foster care
      1. An employee may seek family leave benefits during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement even if that event occurred in 2017.
      2. An employee may take paid leave even for events leading up to adoption, such as travel to another country to complete an adoption.
    3. Qualifying military leave event
      1. An employee can take paid leave if your family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or to active duty.
  14. Employees with health insurance remain covered during paid leave and continue to only pay their normal contributions to the cost of the health insurance premiums at the same level they did prior to their paid leave.
  15. If an employer is subject to FMLA (which applies to groups of 50 or more employees), they must coordinate PFL with FMLA.
  16. We will provide our brokers and policyholders with scheduling details regarding notifications, amendment mailings, administration, claims, and billing over the summer.
  17. Waldorf Risk Solutions is here to help every step of the way.   We’ve been prepping for Paid Family Leave since the day it was signed into law. Ask us specific PFL questions and get the latest developments by calling our office.