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NY Paid Family Leave Benefit

October 25, 2018

What is it?

Starting in January 2018, Paid Family Leave (PFL) became a mandatory benefit in New York, providing you with job protection, and paid time off for the following events:

  • Providing care for a family member with a severe health condition
  • Bonding with a child after birth, adoption, or coming into foster care
  • Dealing with a military exigency event

How do you know if you qualify?

Your employer provides the PFL coverage, and generally, if you have NY statutory disability insurance (DBL), you will automatically get PFL. Most private sector businesses in NY with at least 1 employee will be covered, but there are cases where you will not qualify, so it is best to check with your employer to find out if they are considered a “Covered Employer”.

If your employer is covered, you must meet the eligibility requirements to qualify for PFL:

  • If you work more than 20 hours/week, you must have been employed at least 26 consecutive weeks at your current employer.
  • If you work less than 20 hours/week, you must have completed at least 175 work days at your current employer.
  • If you change jobs, the clock starts new. You cannot carry over time at your previous employer.
  • Time out for disability, covered by NY DBL, does not count towards your qualification period.

How much do you get?

The benefits for PFL will finish being phased in over the next 3 years, and are based on the NY State Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW). For 2019, the NYSAWW is $1,357.11. The NY Department of Labor releases updated NYSAWW numbers every March 31. The current phase-in for PFL is as follows (keep in mind that NY state can change this at their discretion):

In 2020, you will receive either 60% of your weekly wage, or 60% of the NYSAWW – whichever is lower. For example, if you earn $80,000/year ($1,538.46/week) and you qualify for PFL, the maximum you will receive is $840.70/week (60% of the NYSAWW). If you earn $50,000/year ($961.54/week), the maximum you will receive is $576.92/week (60% of your wage).

How much does it cost?

PFL is an employee-funded benefit, but the employer can decide if and how much to deduct from you. If the employer does take contributions from you there are some things to be aware of. First, they can start taking deductions from you as soon as you start your new job, even if you are in the qualification period. Second, the employer cannot exceed your specific maximum contribution. If they do, the excess must be returned to the employee.

The maximum contribution for 2020 is 0.270% of your gross weekly wage capped at the NYSAWW which currently equals a maximum of $196.72 total over the year. This rate is set by NY state and can be adjusted annually to be effective on January 1st. These updated rates will be announced by September 1st of each year for the following calendar year.

How does the benefit work when you are Providing Care for a family member?

A spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild are each considered family members for PFL purposes. You need to provide care to one of these family members with a serious health condition. The care can take a variety of forms such as:

For something to be considered a serious health condition, your family member must be incapacitated for 4 consecutive days with at least 2 doctor treatments, or 1 doctor treatment and a doctor-supervised regimen after that.

You should check with your employer to find out whether your requested leave is covered under the PFL.

How does the benefit work when you are bonding with a new child?

You have a 52-consecutive week window beginning on the date of your child’s birth to bond with him/her. This applies to both parents. NYS Disability (DBL) and PFL cannot be taken at the same time, and cannot exceed 26 weeks total in a consecutive 52-week period.

The benefit also applies for new children who have come to your home through adoption or foster care. Using Paid Family Leave for adoption or foster care finishes at the end of the 52-week period beginning on the date of the placement, or the first day you took leave. You can take leave before the actual placement or adoption of a child if an absence is part of the process of the foster placement or adoption. This could include: counseling sessions, court appearances, consulting with attorneys or doctors representing the birth parent, physical exams, and traveling to another country to complete an international adoption.

How does the benefit work for military exigencies?

You can use the Paid Family Leave benefit to work on family matters if a family member is on active duty, called to active duty status, or been notified of a coming call to active duty in the armed forces of the U.S. A family member for military exigencies is a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child.

For regular armed forces, this is duty during deployment with the armed forces to a foreign country. For Reserve and National Guard, this is duty during deployment with the armed forces to a foreign country under a call or order to active duty to support a contingent operation. These operations can also include national emergencies.

The military exigencies that qualify for the benefit are for: issues that arise on a short-notice deployment of 7 days or less, making financial and legal arrangements, counseling to help cope with psychological stress, attending military events, arranging for alternative child or parent care, and spending time with the family member who is on R&R leave during covered active duty.

Please note that Paid Family Leave takes their cue from the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rules regarding military exigencies. If the FMLA rules change, so will the PFL rules to follow it.

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm. The Securities America Companies and Emerald Financial Services are separate entities.

Written by Joel R. Maness