The new paid family leave policy grants employees job-protected time off to care for their loved ones for up to 12 weeks

Photo credit: Employer Service Corporation

With the new year, New Yorkers now have access to an important new right: paid family leave. The legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Cuomo already in 2016, will make it possible for employees to take leave to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition or help relieve family pressures when a loved one is called to active military service abroad. When fully phased in, New Yorkers will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid time off.

“Our strongest-in-the-nation paid family leave policy will ensure that no one has to choose between losing a job and missing the birth of a child or being able to spend time with a loved one in their final days,” said Governor Cuomo.

Full-time employees who work regularly 20 or more hours per week will be eligible for paid family leave after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Part-time employees with a regular schedule of fewer than 20 hours per week can receive paid family leave after working 175 days for their employer.

Paid family leave coverage will be included in the employer’s existing disability insurance policy and will be fully funded by employees through small, affordable payroll deductions. The deduction for this year is 0.126% of the weekly wage. For example, someone who earns $1,000 weekly will pay $1.26. While the program is mandatory for nearly all private employers, public employers may opt into the program.

The benefits will be phased in over four years and increase each year. In 2018, employees may take up to eight weeks of paid leave at 50 percent of their average weekly wage, capped at 50 percent of the New York State average weekly wage. By 2021, the paid leave will increase to 12 weeks at 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, which will be up to 67 percent of the New York State average weekly wage. The paid family leave can be taken all at once or in full-day increments. The maximum time-off benefit can be taken in any given 52-week period which starts on the first day an employee takes paid leave.

The United States is far behind other countries when it comes to paid family leave. Currently, just 14 percent of U.S. employees have access to employer-sponsored paid family leave. The numbers are even worse for low-wage workers, 94 percent of whom have no access to paid family leave.

Fortunately, the time for paid family leave in New York has now arrived.

To learn more about the NY Paid Family Leave Program, go here

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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