Beginning January 1, 2018, the New York State Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program will provide New Yorkers with paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition or to help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.
The law—and what it means for employers, insurance carriers, and employees—is still developing.
Here are 10 things we know so far:
- This applies to (almost) everyone.
Big or small, PFL applies to all private employers. If you have 1 or more employees, you must comply!
- Employers will not be responsible for paying an employee’s salary while they are on leave.
Just like NYS Disability Benefits (DBL), this program will be covered by an insurance policy. The new PFL insurance policy will be a “rider” on your DBL policy (note: employers do also have the option to self-insure this program IF they self-insure their DBL).
- The premium (cost) of the PFL insurance policy will be paid for by employees.
This will be deducted from their paychecks beginning in 2018. Employers can pay the premium on behalf of their employees.
- The premium cost will be a set rate (i.e. “community rated”).
The premium rate and the maximum employee contribution for coverage beginning January 1, 2018 will be 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, up to and not to exceed the statewide average weekly wage of $1,305.92 . It’s important to keep in mind that while every insurance carrier will charge the same amount for this coverage, that doesn’t mean that every carrier is equal! Be sure to partner up with the carrier that best meets and supports your needs.
- Benefits begin January 1, 2018.
If you renew or start New York State Disability Benefits in 2017, PFL benefits won’t kick in until 2018.
- In 2018, employees are eligible for 50% (of their average weekly wage) for up to 8 weeks.
During the first year, the benefit maximum is 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage. If their weekly earnings are greater than the state average weekly wage, their earnings during their leave period will be capped at 50% of the state average weekly wage level. Employees may take the maximum benefit length (8 weeks in 2018) in any given 52-week period.
- The benefit will be phased-in between now and 2021.
When fully phased-in, employees will be eligible to receive 67% of their salary during 12 weeks of leave.
- Employees are guaranteed job protection upon return from PFL.
Even those employers with less than 50 employees (not subject to FMLA) must protect the employee’s job under PFL. For purposes of the program, job protection is defined as returning your employee to the same or a comparable job.
- Employees are guaranteed continuation of health insurance while out on PFL.
An employee who contributes to the cost of health insurance must continue to pay their portion of the premium cost.
- An employee becomes eligible for PFL 26 weeks from the date they were hired.
If the new employee is part-time, they become eligible after working 175 days.
As the law continues to develop, it’s important that employers understand the legislation and the impact it will have on their business.
GKG will continue to be a resource for all things PFL. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your GKG representative!
Be sure to check out our upcoming GKG University events and resources around NYS Paid Family Leave.
Note: Rules regarding New York State Paid Family Leave have not yet been finalized. Please note that this overview is based on the proposed rules and may be subject to change.