On February 22, 2017, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board and the Department of Financial Services released proposed regulations to implement the paid family leave program. The regulations provide guidance to employers, insurance carriers, and employees to clarify their rights and responsibilities under the program so that they can plan accordingly when the new law goes into effect. The regulations also address eligibility, coverage, the phase-in schedule of the new program, and more information on how employees, employers, and insurance carriers will interact to pay out benefits.
When fully phased in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition, or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. Benefits will be phased in beginning on January 1, 2018, at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, and fully implemented in 2021, at 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.
Employees will also be entitled to reinstatement to their job when leave ends, as well as continuation of health insurance.
To be eligible for paid family leave, employees must have been employed full time for 26 weeks or part time for 175 days by a covered employer at the time they apply for benefits. Those who are eligible for paid family leave include:
- New parents during the first 12 months following the birth or adoption of a child.
- Employees caring for a sick child, parent, or grandparent.
- Employees with a spouse, child, domestic partner, or parent who has been notified of an order to active military duty.
Non-citizens who are covered by an employer for the mandatory 26-week period.
In order to be eligible, employees must present certification from a health care provider treating the family member. Documentation is also required for adoption and foster care of a child.
The program is included under an employer’s disability policy that all private employers are required to carry. It will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions beginning in July of 2017. The program is mandatory for all private employers; public employers may opt-in to the program.
The state has released a website that provides information about the Paid Family Leave Program. The website contains links to both sets of regulations. The regulations are subject to a 45-day comment period before final publication. Comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted through April 7, 2017.