Starting on January 1st, 2018, employees in New York state will be eligible for 8 weeks of paid family leave (PFL) per year. The benefits to the employee include weekly pay up to a cap of 50% of the employee’s weekly wage, or 50% of the average New York weekly wage, whichever is lower. Both the number of weeks of leave and the cap on leave pay are set to incrementally increase over the next few years.
If your business is required to have Disability Benefits under New York Disability Benefits Law (DBL), then you will also be required to provide PFL benefits under the new law. All employees who are eligible for DBL benefits will be eligible for PFL benefits. Employees are potentially eligible to take leave as soon as January 1st, 2018.
PFL is paid for by employee contributions through payroll deductions. The maximum employee contribution is 0.126 percent of their weekly wage, or the average statewide wage, whichever is lower. This rate is determined by the state and may change year to year. Employers may choose to pay this contribution for their employees if they wish.
Employers need to prepare for implementing PFL regulations in a few ways.
- Your business must purchase a PFL insurance policy from a New York Disability Benefits carrier to take effect by no later than January 1st, 2018. Alternatively, employers may arrange for employees to self-insure, which must also be in effect by January 1st, 2018 at the latest.
- Alerting your payroll department or service to the new deductions that will be required, and making sure they are implemented soon, is crucial.
- Employers must make adjustments to their personnel policies and written guidance such as employee handbooks, to be in accordance with the new regulations.
- Employers must notify their employees of the new PFL regulation and their eligibility, such as by using the materials on the state website.
If your small business (< 50 employees) was never affected by the federal Family and Medical Leave act of 1993, then the PFL legislation is going to be a big change. These small businesses will now be required to provide job protected leave (the employee can’t be fired or permanently replaced for taking necessary leave), and paid leave, neither of which they were required to do before. It is of key importance to consider how this will affect your business, and what kind of staffing arrangements might be necessary should one or more employees take leave.
For more information about PFL, you can visit the New York state website.