NYS Paid Family LeaveThe Implications of NYSPFL

The HR world is humming with the implications of New York State’s new Paid Family Leave law. New York State is one of our most populated states. If trends are any indication, this new law will likely more fully develop in other parts of the country soon. So you may see a law similar to this in your state in the near future.

New York State’s Paid Family Leave

Billed as one of the strongest and most comprehensive family leave policies in the nation, New York State’s Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) was signed into law in 2016, becoming effective on January 1, 2018. The law requires all private employers, with one or more employees, to give eight weeks paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a close relative who is seriously ill, or help relieve pressure when certain family members are called to active military duty. This requirement increases gradually to 12 weeks of leave time by 2021.

NYPFL is funded through an additional payroll tax deduction and offers half of employees’ base wages up to a certain amount in 2018, with gradual increases to 67 percent of average weekly earnings by 2021. The state provides a weekly deduction calculator so companies can estimate payroll deductions.

To be eligible, employees must have worked for their employer full-time for 26 consecutive weeks or part-time for at least 175 days before the start of leave.

Other provisions of the law

• Employees must request this leave as soon as reasonably possible.
• Employees are guaranteed their same or a similar position upon return.
• An employee’s health insurance continues during their leave, provided that the employee pays their usual portion of the premiums.
• Employers must post notice of the law in public areas of the workplace, for example, the break room.
• Employers must give staff written notice of their new rights. They can do this by  updating their employee handbook or distributing individual notices.
• Employers are required to obtain paid family leave insurance. This is generally added to the disability policy your company should already carry. If your company self-insures on disability benefits, you may purchase a separate paid family leave policy or apply with the state to self-insure.

More to consider

Integrating this new law may be particularly difficult for small organizations when being one person down can significantly impact workflow. Therefore, employers may want to consider cross-training employees for a variety of jobs.

If your business operates in multiple states including New York, you have additional challenges. Do you offer this leave to all employees, whether they work in New York? Your payroll system should have the ability to accommodate different payroll tax deductions required for different jurisdictions.  However, keep in mind providing employees in New York more leave than your employees in other states could cause a morale problem.

Paid family leave legislation is part of a larger movement to enhance federal requirements under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). We can expect more states and municipalities to follow the trend.