New York: Paid Family Leave Regulations Released

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January 1, 2018

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On July 19, 2017, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board adopted the final regulations for the state Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) issued by the Department of Financial Services on May 16, 2017.  The regulations stem from Governor Cuomo including the Paid Family Leave Benefits law in the 2016-2017 State Budget on March 31, 2016. The following are key points employers need to be aware of.

Eligibility: Employees whose regular schedule is at least 20 hours per week, and who have worked at least 26 consecutive weeks before PFL begins. Part-time employees (whose regular schedule is less than 20 hours per week) are eligible after actually working 175 days (not calendar days) in a 52 consecutive week period for the employer. If an employee will never achieve the required period to become eligible for PFL, and employer must provide employees the option to sign a waiver.

Reasons for Leave: Employees may take leave to: (1) provide care due to a family member’s serious health condition; (2) bond with a newborn child during the first year of life, or for the first year after the placement of a child in the case of adoption or foster care; and (3) any qualifying reason under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) arising from the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent being on active military duty, or being notified of an impending call/order to active duty. Note that PFL runs concurrently with FMLA leave, provided that the employer gives required FMLA notices to the employee.

Continued Health Insurance: Employers must maintain the employee’s existing health benefits for the duration of PFL. This provision may have further legal complications based on existing state insurance laws and federal ERISA laws.

Supplementing Benefits: Employers and employees can agree to allow accrued vacation, sick, personal, or other paid time off to supplement PFL benefits, up to the employee’s full salary or wages.  If this occurs, an employer may request reimbursement from the carrier providing the PFL benefits similar to seeking reimbursement for workers’ compensation benefits. Reimbursement is also available if an employer’s current practice is to pay employees full salary while on family leave.

Job Protection: Employers must reinstate employees to their prior or a comparable position upon return from PFL.

Notice Requirements: Employees must provide employers 30 days’ advance notice when the need for leave is foreseeable, or as soon as practicable. Employers must provide written notice to employees of their rights under PFL.  The notice must be stated in an employee handbook if an employer maintains one. Employers must post a required notice in a conspicuous location in the workplace; the notice will be provided by the state Workers’ Compensation Board.

Ongoing Wage Deduction: PFL is fully funded by employees.  Employers must deduct 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, not to exceed the statewide average weekly wage.  The amount is subject to change on September 1st each year.

Employers who self-insure for PFL have additional requirements, including electing this option no later than September 30, 2017. Employers are recommended to contact their provider for short-term disability benefits for compliance, or review requirements for the self-insurance option.

Action Items

  1. Review the adopted regulations here.
  2. Have handbooks and leave procedures revised in compliance with the new requirements.
  3. Have applicable personnel trained on required payroll deductions and supplemental leave calculations.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2017 ManagEase, Incorporated.

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