Employees in New York are about to receive new paid family leave rights. In the United States, federal law does not require employers to provide paid family leave, but the New York State Paid Family Leave Program does. The law goes into effect in 2018.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives workers in the United States the right to take time off each year for several covered purposes, including dealing with medical issues, caring for a newborn or adopted child and caring for a sick parent, child or spouse.
Under FMLA, only 12 weeks of time off are guaranteed each year, and the time off does not need to be paid. Also, the law does not apply to private employers with fewer than 50 employees.
Some, including Ivanka Trump, have supported a federal policy that would provide several weeks of paid parental leave. States also have the ability to provide additional family and medical leave rights – which is what New York is doing.
New York State Paid Family Leave
Approved in 2016, the New York State Paid Family Leave goes into effect on January 1, 2018. The law guarantees employees time off, and it differs from the federal law in several ways. The final regulations were released in July.
- The New York law applies to private employers of any size. This means that many small businesses that are exempt from the federal law will now have to provide time off.
- The New York law guarantees paid time off. The weekly pay employees receive is capped as either a percentage or their pay or as a percentage of average pay in New York, whichever is lower.
- Unlike the federal law, the New York law does not provide leave for the employee’s own health problems, including prenatal issues. It can only be used to care for a new child or a close relative with a serious health condition. It also covers active duty deployment of a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent.
- To be eligible, employees who work at least 20 hours a week must have worked at the company for at least 26 weeks. Employees who work less than 20 hours a week must have worked at the company for at least 175 days.
- The length of paid time off is being phased in over a few years. In 2018, it will be eight weeks. In 2021, it will reach the maximum of 12 weeks.
- The leave can be funded through employee payroll deductions, although these deductions are capped at 0.126 percent.
Have employee benefit questions? BNC Insurance has answers. Contact our employee benefits department to learn more.