Skip to main content
Article

New York paid family leave: Is it a game changer?

Health and Benefits
N/A

November 9, 2017

Recent trends have seen many states upping the ante with paid leave arrangements supporting a broader range of need. Now New York State is poised to implement the most generous leave policy of all.

The leave landscape continues to shift for employers and employees alike. For while the landmark 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act provided job security for up to 12 weeks for leave, it has always been unpaid. Recent trends, however, have seen many states upping the ante with paid leave arrangements supporting a broader range of need.

Now New York State is poised to implement the most generous leave policy of all. It’s a bold move.

New York paid family leave overview

On January 1, 2018, New York will join California, New Jersey and Rhode Island as the fourth state to provide paid family leave. This benefit will be incorporated under the state’s statutory disability policy and is more generous than the 6-week leave proposed by the Trump administration. It follows a ging trend of providing guaranteed wage replacement for employees to have time to bond with a new child, provide care for a close relative or relieve family pressures related to military service. The definition of family extends to grandparents and domestic partners.

New York law specifics

Any part- or full-time employee working in New York for 26 weeks and at least 175 days is eligible for paid family leave outside of their paid-time-off allowance. Employees may choose to use sick and/or vacation time to supplement their leave income. Leave may be used for:

  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • Caring for a close relative with a serious health condition
  • Active duty deployment
Year Weeks available Max % of employee salary Cap % of state average weekly wage
1/1/2018 8 50% 50%
1/1/2019 10 55% 55%
1/1/2020 10 60% 60%
1/1/2021 12 67% 67%

Employees will be able to take the maximum benefit in any 52-week period as of the first day the employee takes the paid family leave. This leave will be incorporated under the state’s statutory disability policy and will be funded by payroll deductions. As of today, workers’ compensation regulations state that “An employer is permitted, but not required, to collect the weekly employee contribution on July 1, 2017, for paid family leave coverage beginning on January 1, 2018.”

Who is considered family?

When defining “family,” remember:

  • State paid family leave regulations are generally more inclusive than the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state leaves usually include extended family members, including for some states grandparents and siblings.
  • Many states also include domestic partners (opposite and same-sex) even though federal law now recognizes same-sex marriage. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in all states, these spouses are to be accorded the same options under all leave policies.

Different state laws: A challenge for organizations

Many employers find it challenging to manage staff across state lines when policies are inconsistent from state to state. It may feel difficult to defend treating large segments of your staff differently simply because of where they are located. You may want to take a step back to determine the best way to manage this patchwork of state mandates. Is there a better approach? Depending on your locations, you’ll need to balance cost and employee relations concerns to determine the best answer for your organization.

Even if you don’t have employees in one of four states that provide paid family leave, the federal government may make this a requirement in the future. It may, indeed, be time to consider a more consistent policy across organizations.

How should you begin preparing? Consider these steps:

  1. Research – Understand the current legal and regulatory landscape and trends in time-off and parental leave programs
  2. Develop objectives and options for consideration
    • Involve the right people — including legal and finance — in setting objectives for potential policy changes
    • Determine options that can align with those objectives
  3. Evaluate the policy change options across key areas of impact
    • Impact to existing employees
    • Impact on attractiveness of employee value proposition for recruiting
    • Policy cost
    • Administrative cost
    • Anticipated need for future change, given legal and regulatory environment
  4. Confirm recommended direction with senior leadership
  5. Implement — Update policy documentation, administrative process, and communicate the good news to managers and employees
Download
Title File Type File Size
HR Focus November 2017 PDF 2.2 MB
Contact Us
Related content tags, list of links Article Health and Benefits United States