New York Paid Family Leave

The state of new York has passed legislation that will add paid family leave benefits to the current Disability Benefits Law (DBL). Here is all the information you need to know about PFL.

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What is Paid Family Leave (PFL)?

PFL pays a part of an employee's income while they're out of work. It covers bonding with a new child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, and other events related to a family member's active-duty military status.

Regulations from the New York Department of Financial Services and the Worker's Compensation Board are now final (to review them, please see the link at the bottom of this section.

Who is eligible for PFL?

Nearly every full-time and part-time private employee working in New York will be eligible for PFL coverage. A public employee (e.g., employees of a municipality) may receive coverage if their employer opts to include them in the program, or if they are part of a union and PFL is collectively bargained.

A full-time employee (defined as working 20 or more hours per week) must be working for their employer for 26 weeks, while a part-time employee (less than 20 hours per week) must have worked 175 days to be eligible for PFL benefits. Employees will contribute to the cost during their eligibility period (26 weeks/175 days).

How is it different from DBL or FMLA?

DBL and other disability benefits only pay during the employee's own disability. PFL pays benefits to employees while they take time off from work to bond with a new child, or care for a seriously ill family member, or for specific events related to a family member's active-duty military status. Unlike DBL, PFL provides job protection and requirements for continuation of health benefits. DBL and PFL both apply to all private employers with employees working in the State of New York.

FMLA is an unpaid, job and benefit-protected leave of absence with specific eligibility requirements and covered reasons for leave. Employers must have at least 50 employees to be subject to the FMLA. FMLA will run concurrently with both DBL and PFL when all requirements are met.

When does PFL take effect?

The PFL program is effective January 1, 2018.

Not only is the law effective, but employees will be able to file claims, as well. If the eligibility requirements outlined above are met, employees can claim PFL benefits as of 1/1/18 if they have a qualifying event.

How much will PFL cost?

Employees will contribute .126% of their weekly wages to the PFL program.

  • For someone who makes $35,000 a year, the weekly cost would be about $.84 a week, or $44 annually. This will be collected from employees by payroll deduction, similar to how other employee benefit premiums are paid.
  • For someone who makes $50,000 a year, the weekly cost would be about $1.21 a week, or $36 annually.
  • For someone who makes $67,907 (annual wages covered by the maximum benefit) or more, the weekly cost would be about $1.65 a week. The maximum annual contribution an employee can make is $85.56.

How much will PFL pay?

In 2018, PFL will cover 50% of an employee's weekly income, up to 50% of the statewide average weekly wage (the statewide average weekly wage as of July 1, 2017 will be $1,305.92). The benefit amount will increase annually, and by 2021 PFL will cover 67% of the statewide average weekly wage.

Helpful links:

New York PFL homepage WCB regulations DFS regulations

NY Paid Family Leave: Claim & Benefit Information

When can I file a claim?

You can file a claim for PFL benefits on or after January 01, 2018, as long as you have satisfied the 26 week/175 day eligibility period with your employer. If you change employers, you will need to satisfy another eligibility period.

What events are covered by PFL?

You may use PFL to bond with a new child within 12 months of birth, adoption, or foster placement.

You can also use PFL to take care of a family member with a serious health condition. A family member is defined as:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Parent-in-law
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves:

  • inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility; or
  • continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider.

Finally, you can use PFL for qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member's active duty deployement that are covered under the FMLA, PFL can only be used for a family member's qualifying military event, not your own.

Benefit amounts

PFL will be paid in weekly increments, just like DBL benefits. PFL benefits in 2018 will be equal to 50% or the employee's average weekly wages to a maximum of 50% of the state average weekly wage (currently, the maximum benefit would be about $652/week).

PFL benefits will increase over the next few years, until in matures in 2021 (see table below):

Effective date Max length of paid leave Covered % of employee's weekly income Maximum benefit (% of NY average weekly wage)
1/1/2018 8 weeks 50% 50%
1/1/2019 10 weeks 55% 55%
1/1/2020 10 weeks 60% 60%
1/1/2021 12 weeks 67% 67%

Is the PFL benefit subject to taxes?

The State of New York issued a notice on August 25, 2017 regarding taxability.

  • They confirmed that benefits will be considered taxable non-wage income.
  • Income tax withholdings are not mandatory; however, an employee can request that taxes be withheld from their weekly benefit payments.
  • Premiums are to be deducted from an employees' after-tax wages.
  • Employers must include PFL contributions from employees on their W-2 forms in box 14.
  • PFL benefits paid by Unum will be reported on a 1099-MISC form.

What You Need To Know

Employees

Do I have to wait to take PFL?

Unlike DBL, which requires the employee to be disabled for seven consecutive days before they are eligible for benefits, they can use PFL as soon as they have a qualifying event if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Eligibility

Nearly every full-time and part-time private employee working in New York is eligible for PFL. Participation is mandatory; employees cannot opt out of the program. A public employee (e.g., employees of a municipality) may receive coverage if their employer opts into the program, of if they are part of a union and PFL is collectively bargained.

A full-time employee (defined as working 20 or more hours per week) must be working for their employer for 26 weeks, while a part-time employee (less than 20 hours per week) must have worked 175 days to be eligible for PFL benefits.

Coordination With Other Leaves/Benefits

PFL will work in conjunction with several other benefits:

FMLA: PFL will coincide with FMLA where applicable. PFL benefits are paid in daily increments, whereas FMLA can be in hourly increments.

DBL: You cannot receive DBL and PFL benefits at the same time. Additionally, the total amount of DBL and PFL benefits employees receive cannot total more than 26 weeks in a 52 week period.

Employers

Employee Communication

Employers are responsible for including information about PFL in their employee benefit handbooks. Employers also must display a poster at the worksite that describes the DBL/PFL program. Unum will help employers by providing these informational materials.

Coordination With Other Leaves/Benefits

PFL does not offset other benefits.

PFL will work in conjunction with several other benefits:

FMLA: PFL will coincide with FMLA where eligibility overlaps. Employers should review their leave policies to determine if there are differences in how these leaves will align for your organization.

DBL: An employee cannot receive DBL and PFL benefits at the same time. Additionally, the total amount of DBL and PFL benefits an employee receives cannot total more than 26 weeks in a 52 week period.

Corporate PFL programs: Employers with existing corporate PFL programs should review their programs to determine how coordination will be managed.

Employers will be responsible for coordinating and tracking the amount of time employees have available for DBL, PFL, and FMLA (where applicable). Unum can help employers with this daunting task through our integrated claims processing for DBL, PFL, and FMLA.

Health Insurance

When an employee is on PFL, their employer must ensure that health insurance premiums are paid and that coverage for that employee remains in-force under the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. Any share of the health insurance premiums which had been paid by an employee prior to paid family leave shall continue to be paid by the employee during the paid family leave period. If an employee does not continue the pre-existing premium contributions, they will risk having their coverage cancelled during their leave period. After the leave period is complete, the employee must be reinstated as if they had never lost coverage.

Payroll

Since PFL is funded by employee contributions, employers should begin partnering with their payroll vendors as soon as possible to ensure payroll deductions begin on time.

The earliest date allowed by the State for deductions is July 1, 2017. Employers planning to self-insure PFL may want to consider starting deductions as of this date. Additionally, employers should check with their carriers to determine if they will allow for premium collection as of this date.

Reporting

The State of New York is requiring several reports to be sent to them on a quarterly and annual basis. Fully-insured DBL/PFL coverage with Unum includes transmission of these reports as required on the employer's behalf, helping them stay in compliance with the law.