EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS

New York Paid Family Leave: Benefits to Increase

By Kris Janisch
Published Oct. 12, 2020

New York Paid Family Leave Benefits

Benefits for New York State’s Paid Family Medical Leave policy will increase starting Jan. 1, 2021.

Benefits for New York State’s Paid Family Medical leave policy will increase starting Jan. 1, 2021.

It’s the third and final scheduled increase since the law was enacted in 2018.

Employers should note that not only are the number of weeks for employee benefits increasing — so too are employee contributions and amount of weekly benefits. New York calls the law the nation’s strongest paid family leave policy.

New York Paid Family Leave: Benefit Updates

First, starting next year qualifying employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of job protected paid time off, up from 10 currently.

Reasons for using paid family leave include:

  • Bonding with a new child
  • Caring for a family member’s health condition
  • Assisting family with a military servicemember who is deployed overseas

In the spring of 2020, the law was also amended to cover COVID-19-related uses.

Meanwhile, the benefits paid to employees will also increase in 2021. Employees using New York Paid Family Leave will receive 67 percent of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 67 percent of the current New York average weekly wage, which stands at $1,450.17. The maximum weekly benefit for 2021 will be $971.61.

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Lastly, payroll deductions in 2021 will be 0.511 percent of an employee’s gross wages per pay period, with a maximum contribution of $385.34.

The state laid out examples for benefits at different income levels:

Employees earning $519 a week (about $27,000 a year) will pay about $2.65 per week: $519 times 0.511 percent. When taking the benefit, these employees will receive $347.73 per week, up to a maximum total benefit of $4,172.76.

Employees earning $1,000 a week ($52,000 a year) will pay $5.11 per week: $1,000 times 0.511 percent. When taking the benefit, these employees will receive $670 per week, up to a maximum total benefit of $8,040.

Employees earning the SAWW of $1,450.17 ($75,408 a year) or more will pay 0.511 percent times their gross wages each pay period until they reach the maximum of $385.34. When taking the benefit, these employees will receive $971.61 per week, up to a maximum total benefit of $11,659.32.

New York Paid Family Leave: The Basics

The law applies to nearly every employer in New York State. Under New York Paid Family Leave, a covered employer has one or more employees working at least 30 days in any calendar year.

Employees must meet eligibility requirements:

  • Full-time (regularly work 20 or more hours/week), after 26 consecutive weeks of employment
  • Part-time (regularly work fewer than 20 hours/week), after 175 working days

The benefits can be taken all at once or in full-day increments.

Covered family members include:

  • Child (including adopted, foster, stepchild and more)
  • Domestic partner
  • Parent (including foster, adoptive, parent-in-law and more)
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild

There are also associated recordkeeping requirements for employers, including keeping track of the number of employees, their classification, wages and more.

The state has a resources page with guides for employers who want more information.

Conclusion

As employers head into Q4, they should take a look ahead to 2021 to determine if any updates similar to New York’s will happen.

The depth and breadth of paid leave laws across the country have expanded to cover the coronavirus, and more jurisdictions are examining the need for paid leave.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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