NY’s expanded paid family leave policy starts Jan. 1

Posted 18 December 2017 at 1:51 pm

Press Release, Gov. Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the nation’s strongest, most progressive and most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy. Starting January 1, 2018, New Yorkers will have job-protected paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition or help relieve family pressures when a loved one is called to active military service abroad. When fully phased in, New Yorkers will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid time off.

“Our strongest-in-the-nation Paid Family Leave policy will ensure that no one has to choose between losing a job and missing the birth of a child or being able to spend time with a loved one in their final days,” Governor Cuomo said. “This will help improve the lives of workers across this great state and I am proud to enact this landmark legislation to help move New York forward.”

Those eligible for Paid Family Leave include:

• Parents during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child;

• Caretakers for a sick spouse, domestic partner, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandchild;

• Employees with a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent who has been notified of an order of active military service abroad.

Full-time employees with a regular schedule of 20 or more hours a week will be eligible for Paid Family Leave after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Part-time employees with a regular schedule of less than 20 hours a week can apply for Paid Family Leave after working 175 days for their employer.

Insurance Coverage: Paid Family Leave coverage will typically be included as a rider to an employer’s existing disability insurance policy, and will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions. In 2018, the employee contribution is 0.126 percent of an employee’s weekly wage, capped at 0.126 percent of the New York State Average Weekly Wage. The program is mandatory for nearly all private employers. Public employers may opt into the program.

Phase-in Schedule: Paid Family Leave will be phased in over four years, beginning January 1, 2018. In 2018, employees may take up to eight weeks of paid leave at 50 percent of their average weekly wage up to 50 percent of the New York State Average Weekly Wage. That increases to 12 weeks of paid leave in 2021 paid at 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage up to 67 percent of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.

“New York’s Paid Family Leave program will provide critical support to New Yorkers caring for older loved ones,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP New York. “No one should ever be forced to choose between caring for a family member and risking their economic security. AARP will continue our hard work to educate New Yorkers about this important new benefit.”

The United States is far behind other countries when it comes to paid family leave, Cuomo said. Currently, just 14 percent of the U.S. workforce has access to employer-sponsored paid family leave. The numbers are even worse for low-wage workers, 94 percent of whom have no access to paid family leave. In New York, they now will.

Since Paid Family Leave became law in 2016, the state has focused on getting the word out so New Yorkers can take full advantage of the benefits heading into 2018, with outreach efforts reaching millions of people including 1.1 million unique visitors to New York’s dedicated website; 27,000 calls have been handled by NYS’s toll-free PFL Helpline; 1.7 million people have been reached via social media; and 500,000 businesses have been contacted via U.S. Mail.

Additional information on New York State’s Paid Family Leave law, along with numerous resources for employers and workers, can be found on the Paid Family Leave website by clicking here. The public is also encouraged to call the Paid Family Leave helpline at (844) 337-6303 with any questions.

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