The New York State Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program will take effect on January 1, 2018. Any employer in New York State that has at least one employee and currently offers disability insurance will now be mandated to offer Paid Family Leave to its eligible employees. The PFL policy will be managed by your disability carrier. The premium will be billed based on the number of employees you have and their weekly wage amounts.

PFL insurance is designed to be employee funded, meaning the premiums should be deducted from each employee’s paycheck based on his or her weekly wage. The calculation for the deduction is 0.126% of the employee’s weekly wages up to a maximum of $1.65 weekly. There is an option for the employer to cover the amount of the premiums, should you wish. However, the standard is that the deduction will be taken each pay period from each employee who is enrolled.

An employee who will not be eligible for PFL may opt out of the coverage. In order to opt out, the employee must affirm that he or she will not regularly work 20 hours or more per week for 26 consecutive weeks with the same employer, or that he or she will work less than 20 hours per week and will not work 175 consecutive days during 52 consecutive weeks for the same employer. To complete the affirmation, an opt-out waiver must be completed.

Eligible employees may take up to eight weeks of PFL during a 52-week period. In order to be eligible, the employee must have worked 26 consecutive weeks and have a qualifying event. A qualifying event falls into one of three categories: bonding with a new child, caring for a sick relative, or assisting a relative serving in the military. Your insurance agent can assist you with necessary forms and further explanations of qualifying events, as well as the definitions of relatives as it pertains to the coverage.

An eligible employee with a qualifying event may take up to eight weeks of PFL in a 52-week period. The leave may be taken all at one time or in eight-hour intervals, depending on the qualifying event. The employee would be paid 50% of his or her gross weekly wage from the carrier, much like disability leave. There is a capped amount based on the New York State average weekly wage. That capped amount is $1,305.92, so an employee who makes that amount or greater on a weekly basis would receive a benefit of $652.96 during the 2018 calendar year. As the employer, you must provide job protection for the employee on leave as well as maintain a continuation of his or her health insurance while on leave.

The number of weeks available as well as the percentage paid will increase each year until it reaches the maximum of 12 weeks PFL and 67% of wages in 2021. Additional information is available on the New York State website.

Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to us.