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By: Robyn Flegal
In 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the nation’s most comprehensive paid family leave policy into law. New York will join California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey as the only states providing a paid family leave benefit. The New York State Paid Family Leave Program, effective January 1, 2018, will require that almost all private employers, including those with as few as one employee, provide eligible employees with paid leave. Eligible employees include (a) employees who have worked for twenty-six consecutive weeks, or (b) part-time employees working twenty hours or less per week who have worked for 175 days.
The program will initially require that these eligible employees receive eight weeks paid leave at 50% salary but, by January 1, 2021, employees will receive twelve weeks of paid leave at 67% salary. Benefits are capped at 50% of New York’s average weekly wage. The following are circumstances for which employees will be able to take paid family leave under the new statute: (a) to care for a child within twelve months after birth, adoption, or foster care placement, (b) to care for a family member (including grandparents and domestic partners) with a serious health condition, and (c) in the event of a qualifying exigency when a family member is called to active military service. Leave may be taken intermittently in full day increments during a fifty-two week period. Although employers may permit employees to use sick or vacation leave in order to receive full pay, employers cannot require employees to use their paid time off while on leave under this new law. Employers can, however, require that FMLA and Paid Family Leave run concurrently.
Under the new law, employees must provide thirty days’ notice if such leave is foreseeable. During the leave, employers must maintain the employee’s existing health insurance benefits, and the employee is entitled to reinstatement in the same position held prior to the leave or to a comparable position with comparable pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Employers whose employees work in New York for thirty or more days in a calendar year must also obtain Paid Family Leave insurance coverage.
If you are a private company with employees working in New York (including employees who work in New York but live in another state or who work from home in New York), you should have a plan in place for implementation of this program, and you should update your policies to ensure compliance with the new requirements as of January 1, 2018.
For more information, please contact [email protected] or any of FMG’s Labor and Employment attorneys.