Effective January 1, 2018, the New York State Paid Family Leave Benefits Law will require almost every employer in the state to provide employees of a certain tenure with up to eight weeks of paid leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, bond with a child within the first 12 months after the child’s birth or adoption, or attend to family duties occasioned by the active military duty of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent. Although the law is similar to the federal Family Medical Leave Act, there are several important differences: in New York, leave is paid rather than unpaid; paid family leave may not be used for the employee’s own serious health condition, including pregnancy disability; and the coverage is far more expansive, applying to employers of at least one employee and employees with tenure as brief as 175 days. New York’s paid family leave is designed to be self-funding: the paid leave amounts will be paid for by post-tax employee payroll deductions, which employers must use to either purchase insurance or to self-fund. New York State is requiring that all insurance carriers add PFL coverage to existing disability policies as of January 1, 2018.
The maximum paid leave period will phase in over time, increasing to a maximum 12 weeks as of January 1, 2021. Leave may be taken intermittently, of durations as brief as one day. An employer may require that the paid leave entitlement run concurrently with FMLA leave. What is not clear in either the statute or the final regulations issued on July 19 by the Workers’ Compensation Board is whether other employer-provided paid-time-off benefits may run concurrently with paid family leave.
For additional information on the New York State Paid Family Leave Benefits Act, please see our memorandum