January 1 is key date for New York paid family leave law

Diversity Insight paid family leaveby Angelo D. Catalano

Employers in New York need to be ready to provide paid family leave (PFL) to eligible employees as of January 1.

The PFL law, signed into law in April 2016, allows eligible full- and part-time employees to take payroll-deducted paid leave for qualifying circumstances such as a serious health condition of a close family member, bonding with a newborn or adopted child, and exigencies arising out of a close family member’s active military service.

As with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees’ health insurance coverage will continue while they are on PFL. Unlike the FMLA, the PFL law doesn’t allow employees to take leave for their own serious health condition. Other highlights of the PFL law: It applies to all private-sector employers, large and small, and its benefits will be available to full-time employees who have worked for just 26 consecutive weeks.

Effective January 1, eligible employees will receive a maximum of eight weeks of PFL benefits at 50% of their average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit of 50% of New York state’s average weekly wage. PFL benefits will “phase in” and increase annually so that by January 1, 2021, eligible employees can receive 12 weeks of benefits at 67% of their average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit of 67% of the state’s average weekly wage.

Regulations implementing the PFL law were proposed in the spring of 2017 to clarify some aspects of the law such as how part-time employees become eligible, how payroll deductions work, notice requirements, how disputes will be resolved, the law’s effect on collective bargaining agreements, and penalties for employer noncompliance.

For more information on the New York PFL law, see the April 2017 issue of New York Employment Law Letter.

Angelo D. Catalano is an attorney with Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP, in Binghamton, New York. He can be reached at