Am I entitled to paid family leave in New York?

Does New York requirement employers to provide paid maternity, paternity or family leave? Not yet. But soon.

Governor Cuomo signed legislation on April 4, 2016 that will eventually provide New York employees with paid family leave.

A paid family leave program was enacted that will eventually result in eligible employees being entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave when they are out of work for the following qualifying reasons: (1) to care for a family member with a serious health condition; (2) to bond with a child during the first 12 months following birth or placement for adoption or foster care; or (3) because of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the armed forces.

To be eligible for paid family leave, employees must work for a covered employer (as defined under the New York Disability Law) for 26 or more consecutive weeks. Family leave benefits will be phased in as follows:

Beginning January 1, 2018, eligible employees will receive up to 8 weeks of paid family leave in a 52-week calendar period at 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at 50% of the state average weekly wage;

Beginning January 1, 2019, eligible employees will receive up to 10 weeks of paid family leave in a 52-week calendar period at 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at 50% of the state average weekly wage;

Beginning January 1, 2020, eligible employees will receive up to 10 weeks of paid family leave in a 52-week calendar period at 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at 60% of the state average weekly wage; and

Beginning January 1, 2021 and each year thereafter, eligible employees will receive up to 12 weeks of paid family leave in a 52-week calendar period at 67% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at 67% of the state average weekly wage.

Family leave benefits may be payable to employees for family leave taken intermittently or for less than a full workweek in increments of one full day or one-fifth of the weekly benefit. Significantly, employers are not required to fund any portion of this benefit. Rather, the program is funded entirely through a nominal employee payroll deduction. The maximum employee contribution will be set by the Superintendent of Financial Services on June 1, 2017 and annually thereafter.

Entitlement to paid family leave is also subject to certain medical certification and notification requirements. Paid family leave benefits must be used concurrently with leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition, employees are prohibited from collecting disability and paid family leave benefits concurrently.

In addition to paid leave, this legislation contains a provision for the continuation of health benefits which provides as follows: “In accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654), during any period of family leave the employer shall maintain any existing health benefits of the employee in force for the duration of such leave as if the employee had continued to work from the date he or she commenced family leave until the date he or she returns to employment.”

Finally, employees who take paid family leave must be restored to their current position or to a comparable position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

 

Douglas Lipsky is a partner at Bronson Lipsky who specializes in employment law.  You should contact him at 212.444.1024 if you have any questions about maternity leave or employment law in general.