Paid Family Leave: Information for Employers

TOP Paid Family Leave: Information for Employers
Overview
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Businesses play an important role in implementing Paid Family Leave. Starting January 1, 2018, nearly all private employees in New York State will be eligible for Paid Family Leave.

Insurance coverage for Paid Family Leave benefits generally will be added to an employer’s existing disability benefits policy. Paid Family Leave coverage is funded by employee payroll contributions. Use the ny.gov/pflcalculator to get an estimate of an employee's weekly deduction.

Weekly Deduction Calculator

 

Through Paid Family Leave, employers may increase recruitment and retention as eligible employees are guaranteed:

  • paid time off for 8 weeks in 2018, increasing to 12 weeks by 2021;
  • job protection upon return from Paid Family Leave; and 
  • continuation of health insurance while out on Paid Family Leave. 

 

 

TOP QUESTIONS FROM EMPLOYERS

  • How much should employers deduct from employees?
    The 2018 payroll contribution is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $85.56. If an employee earns less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1305.92 per week), they will have an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $85.56, consistent with their actual weekly wages.

    For example, in 2018, if an employee earns $27,000 a year ($519 a week), they will pay 65 cents per week.

  • What do employers do with the money deducted from employees?
    The employee contributions that are withheld for Paid Family Leave are to be used to pay for the insurance.
  • If an employee/employment type is excluded from disability, are they included in Paid Family Leave?
    The definitions of employment and employee are the same in the Workers’ Compensation Law for disability and Paid Family Leave. If they are not included in the disability policy, they won’t be included in Paid Family Leave, either.
  • Who is required to participate in Paid Family Leave?
    Participation is required for private employers with one or more employees; public employers may opt in to provide the benefit. More details on eligibility and coverage can be found within the Frequently Asked Questions section of this website.
  • How does Paid Family Leave work with other types of leave?
    • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): If an employee has an event that qualifies for leave under both FMLA and Paid Family Leave the employer is covered under both laws, the leave should run concurrently. In order for the two types of leaves to run together, the employer must notify the employee that the leave qualifies for both FMLA and Paid Family Leave and that it will be designated as such.
    • Short-term Disability: Employees cannot take short-term disability and Paid Family Leave at the same time. However, if the employee qualifies for short-term disability (for example, after giving birth), they may take short-term disability and then Paid Family Leave. Employees cannot take more than 26 weeks of combined short-term disability and Paid Family Leave in a 52-week period.
    • Workers’ Compensation: If an employee is collecting workers’ compensation for a total disability, they cannot take Paid Family Leave. If they are on a reduced earnings schedule, they may still be eligible for Paid Family Leave.
    • Maternity Leave/Paternity Leave: It is up to the employer to determine how Paid Family Leave works with their other leave policies.

For more frequently asked questions and answers, visit the FAQ page of this website.

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Employer Responsibilities
Employer Responsibilities
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Below is a list of ongoing responsibilities for employers in New York who must provide Paid Family Leave; new employers can use it as a checklist to prepare for offering the benefit.

Ensure your company has Paid Family Leave coverage

  • Most private employers with one or more employees are required to obtain Paid Family Leave insurance. Contact your broker or insurer for information about available policies as well as options for paying your premium (e.g., whether it can be paid semi-annually, annually, or annually on a retrospective basis).
  • This insurance is generally added as a rider on an existing disability insurance policy; it does not replace it.
  • If you are self-insured for disability, you may purchase a separate Paid Family Leave policy or apply to the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board to self-insure. You would still need coverage while you’re applying.
  • For a list of insurers offering Paid Family Leave policies, visit the PFL section of the Department of Financial Services website.

 

Inform your employees about Paid Family Leave

  • Include Paid Family Leave information in your written materials distributed to your employees, such as employee handbooks.
  • If you do not have a handbook, provide written guidance to employees concerning their Paid Family Leave benefits, including how to file a request for Paid Family Leave.
  • Model language for employee handbooks and other written materials is available here

 

Collect employee payroll contributions

  • Ensure that you are collecting the employee contributions that pay for this insurance.
  • It is strongly recommended you notify employees before withholding any contributions. A template Notice of Employee Payroll Deduction is available here.
  • The employee contribution rate is set every year to match the cost of insurance coverage. For 2018, the payroll contribution rate is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $85.56. Employees earning less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1305.92 per week), will have an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $85.56, consistent with their actual weekly wages.
  • Use the ny.gov/pflcalculator to get an estimate of an employee's weekly deduction.

 

Inform employees about waivers if they qualify

  • Identify employees who qualify for a waiver (information on who is eligible for waivers is explained below in the Employer and Employee Eligibility and Waivers section of this website), and offer them the option to waive coverage.
  • Provide these employees with a waiver form, which is available here.
  • Keep a copy of all completed waivers on file.

 

Post an employee notice

  • Your insurance carrier will provide you with a notice to employees (Notice of Compliance) stating that you have Paid Family Leave insurance.
  • If you are self-insured, you can get this notice by contacting the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board at [email protected].
  • Post and maintain this notice in plain view.

 

Familiarize Yourself with Your Responsibilities when an Employee Requests Paid Family Leave

  • Included below is information on what you need to do when an employee requests Paid Family Leave, including your responsibility to complete a section of their form.

Contact Us for Assistance

  • Call the Paid Family Leave Helpline at 844-337-6303, Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm ET
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Obtaining and Funding a Policy
Obtaining and Funding a Policy
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Paid Family Leave coverage will typically be added as a rider on an employer’s existing disability insurance policy. For a list of insurers offering Paid Family Leave policies, visit the PFL section of the Department of Financial Services website.

Paid Family Leave does not replace disability benefits coverage. Some employees may be eligible for both Paid Family Leave and disability benefits, although they may not be taken simultaneously.

Employers may deduct the premium cost for the Paid Family Leave insurance policy from employees through a payroll deduction or choose to cover the cost themselves.

The 2018 payroll contribution is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $85.56. Employees earning less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1305.92 per week), will have an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $85.56, consistent with their actual weekly wages.

Employers should contact their current disability benefits insurance carrier to learn more about Paid Family Leave coverage, including when they should begin collecting payroll contributions for Paid Family Leave.

Coverage restrictions for disability benefits for employees of non-profit or religious institutions also apply to Paid Family Leave.

Information for Employers Who Currently Provide or Would Like to Provide More Generous Family Leave Benefits

All covered employers are required to provide the statutory level of Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits through an insurance policy from a carrier or a self-insurance policy. However, employers who want to provide more generous, or enhanced, benefits (e.g., extended leave or more pay) may do so.

  • Employers with insurance policies through an insurance carrier - If you would like to add enhanced benefits to your PFL benefits policy:
    • Discuss your options with your insurance carrier.
    • The carrier will file all required notifications of enhanced benefits with the Workers’ Compensation Board.
    • The Board will review the policy to ensure the benefit is “at least as favorable” to statutory benefits and notify the carrier of its determination.
  • Self-insured employers - If you would like to add enhanced benefits to your self-insured PFL benefit:
    • Contact your plan administrator or, if you do not have one, the Workers’ Compensation Board at (518) 402-0247 to obtain the required documents.
    • You or your plan administrator should email the completed documents to the Board at [email protected].
    • The Board will review the benefit to ensure it is “at least as favorable” to statutory benefits and notify you of its determination.
  • Employers offering benefits outside Paid Family Leave - If you are an employer who is interested in providing an enhanced benefit outside the parameters of Paid Family Leave:
    • You may do so without any notification to the Workers’ Compensation Board.
    • However, you are still required to maintain coverage for statutory Paid Family Leave benefits and provide proof of coverage to the Board either through your insurance carrier or directly if you are self-insured.
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Handling Requests
Handling Requests
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Request Process

  1. Employees should provide you with 30 days’ advance notice of their intent to use Paid Family Leave, if it’s foreseeable. If the event is not foreseeable, the employee must notify you as soon as possible.
  2. Employers should have Paid Family Leave request forms available upon request. You can get these from your insurer. Employees will contact you, your insurance carrier, or visit ny.gov/PaidFamilyLeaveApply to obtain the required forms for the specific type of leave they are requesting.
  3. When an employee is preparing to take Paid Family Leave, they will request that you complete a portion of the Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1) and return it to them.
    • You must complete and return the form to your employee within three business days. Make a copy of this form for your records.

After you complete your portion of the form, employees will submit their request directly to the insurer. The insurance carrier must pay or deny the employee’s request within 18 calendar days of receiving the request for Paid Family Leave

Human Resources Responsibilities

An employee’s average weekly wage is computed by adding his or her wages for the eight weeks prior to the start of Paid Family Leave, and dividing the total by eight. For a sole proprietor who has opted into Paid Family Leave, the average weekly wage will be the last 52 weeks of income divided by 52.

There is no requirement that employees continue to accrue benefits or other paid time off while on leave. The policy should be set by the employer or through a collective bargaining agreement.

Preventing Fraud

As an employer, you play a key role in preventing insurance fraud. Once you complete the portion of the Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1), you affirm your employee’s hours worked and wages, among other elements, which helps insurers confirm that the employee is eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits.

Payment of Benefits

Paid Family Leave benefits are paid to employees by the insurance carrier or employer, if self-insured. If your employee disagrees with a claims decision, you should direct them to your insurer or http://nyspfla.com to request a review by a neutral arbitrator.

Health Insurance

Employees can keep their health insurance while on leave. If employees contribute to the cost of their health insurance, they must continue to pay their portion of the cost while on leave. 

Requesting Reimbursement from Your Insurance Carrier

If you pay full wages to your employees while they are on Paid Family Leave, you may seek reimbursement from your insurance carrier for the amount payable under your Paid Family Leave policy.

You can indicate if your employees are paid in full wages while on paid leave on the Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1, Part B, Question 10).
Failure to select “Yes” for requesting reimbursement from the insurance carrier will result in a waiver of the right to reimbursement. 

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Eligibility and Waivers
Eligibility and Waivers
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Most private employers with one or more employees are required to obtain Paid Family Leave coverage.

Out-Of-State Employers and Employees

An employer with one or more employees in employment in New York for 30 or more days in a calendar year must obtain Paid Family Leave coverage. Family Leave is a benefit for people who work in New York; it does not matter where the employer is headquartered or where the employee lives. For example:

  • An employee who works from their home in New York is covered even if the employer is located outside of New York State.
  • An employee who usually works outside New York State but occasionally comes into New York State for work is likely not considered a New York State employee.
  • An employer that is located outside of New York State does not need to cover employees who live in New York but work outside of New York. 

Public Employers

A public employer may opt into Paid Family Leave by submitting an application and plan to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, along with providing notice to its employees at least 90 days before collecting employee contributions.

A labor union may collectively bargain with a public employer to offer Paid Family Leave benefits.  The agreed-upon plan must then be submitted to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for approval.  The plan must be “at least as favorable” as the statutorily mandated Paid Family Leave benefits. Once an agreement is reached, written notice must be provided to the Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board, including a list of employees and coverage information.

A collective bargaining agreement for Paid Family Leave may provide rules that differ from the Paid Family Leave regulations.  Where the agreement does not provide a different rule, the Paid Family Leave regulations will apply.

For Employers Who Are Opting in to Paid Family Leave:

Inform your Employees and the Workers’ Compensation Board:

  • Provide 90 days’ advance notice to your unrepresented employees of your decision to provide Paid Family Leave. If you have employees who are represented by a union, their participation is subject to negotiation. If you want to provide Paid Family Leave to such employees, you should engage their union(s) to negotiate the terms of their participation. 
  • If you currently provide disability benefits, email the Workers’ Compensation Board Plans Acceptance Unit at [email protected] stating that you plan to provide Paid Family Leave to employees in 2018.  If insured for disability benefits, notify your disability benefits insurance carrier (if you do not self-insure) of your decision.
  • If you do not provide disability benefits, complete the Employer’s Application for Voluntary Coverage available on the Paid Family Leave website. You may do so at any time. Completed applications should be submitted to the Plans Acceptance Unit via email at  [email protected].

Important: For most private employers, Paid Family Leave will be added as a rider on their existing disability insurance policies. If you are an employer who currently carries disability insurance, your insurer may automatically add Paid Family Leave coverage to your 2018 disability policy. However, as a public employer, you are not required to add Paid Family Leave insurance to your existing policy; you must actively elect to opt in.

Obtain Insurance Coverage

If and when you decide to opt in, Paid Family Leave insurance coverage may be secured by:

  • providing Paid Family Leave benefits through a rider on an existing disability benefits policy,
  • obtaining a stand-alone Paid Family Leave insurance policy, or
  • self-insuring for Paid Family Leave.

Public employers that offer disability benefits through an insurance policy may not self-insure for Paid Family Leave.

Coverage must be maintained for at least one year and may only be canceled after providing 12 months’ notice to all affected unrepresented employees and to the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Paying for Paid Family Leave

Employers may collect the insurance premium cost through employee payroll contributions or pay the premium themselves.

The employee contribution rate is set every year to match the cost of insurance coverage. For 2018, the payroll contribution rate is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $85.56. Employees earning less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1305.92 per week), will have an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $85.56, consistent with their actual weekly wages.

For Employers Who Are Not Opting in to Paid Family Leave 

  • If you are not currently providing disability benefits, you do not need to do anything at this time.
  • If you are currently providing disability benefits, you should email the Workers’ Compensation Board at [email protected] stating that you do not plan to provide Paid Family Leave to employees in 2018.
  • You can apply to provide voluntary Paid Family Leave coverage at any time.

A public employer must notify all employees who will be required to make contributions and the NYS Workers' Compensation Board 90 days before the first Paid Family Leave employee deduction is made.

For More Information or Assistance

If you have specific questions about opting in, please write to [email protected]. You can also contact the Paid Family Leave Helpline at (844) 337-6303.

Employee Eligibility

Employees must be employed by a covered employer at the time they apply for Paid Family Leave. Employee eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Employees with a regular work schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
  • Employees with a regular work schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days worked.

In limited circumstances, employees whose regular work schedules are temporary or seasonal may opt out of Paid Family Leave.

Employees who hold more than one job may take Paid Family Leave from both jobs, but they must do so with both employers at the same time.

Citizenship and/or immigration status do not impact a worker's eligibility for Paid Family Leave. 

When an employee changes employers, he or she must re-establish eligibility with the new employer.

If an employee has regularly worked 20 or more hours for 26 weeks for a covered employer, they meet the eligibility requirements for Paid Family Leave. The average weekly wage for the employee is calculated by adding up their pay for the last eight weeks worked prior to the first day of paid family leave and dividing by eight.

Waivers 

If an employee regularly works less than 20 hours per week but won’t work 175 days in a year, or regularly works 20 or more hours per week but won’t be in employment for 26 consecutive weeks, that employee may opt out of paying Paid Family Leave payroll contributions by completing a waiver of benefits form.  This waiver is optional, and an employer may not require that an employee sign a waiver. Employees who complete a waiver will not contribute to Paid Family Leave through payroll deductions and will not be eligible to take Paid Family Leave.  If the employee’s schedule changes so they no longer qualify for a waiver, the waiver is automatically revoked and the employee is responsible for paying any required Paid Family Leave contributions from the first day of employment.

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Self-Employed Individuals
Self-Employed Individuals
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Self-Employed Individuals (Including Sole-Proprietors and Independent Contractors)

Paid Family Leave is a benefit for employees. If you work for yourself, you are not required to have Paid Family Leave. However, you may choose to voluntarily obtain insurance coverage for disability and Paid Family Leave.

Independent contractors are not considered employees for purposes of New York State's Disability and Paid Family Leave law, which means that employers are not required to cover you under their disability and Paid Family Leave policies. Because independent contractors are considered self-employed, you may choose to voluntarily obtain insurance coverage for disability and Paid Family Leave.

The process for self-employed individuals to voluntarily obtain Paid Family Leave coverage for themselves depends on whether or not you have employees (for whom coverage is mandatory).

If you have employees:

  • You must obtain Paid Family Leave coverage for your employees.
  • To voluntarily obtain coverage for disability benefits and Paid Family Leave benefits for yourself, you must formally opt in by submitting voluntary coverage forms (available here) to the Workers’ Compensation Board.
  • You must opt in for both disability and Paid Family Leave benefits. You cannot opt in for only Paid Family Leave.
  • After opting in, notify your insurance carrier.

If you do not have employees:

  • You can voluntarily obtain coverage for disability benefits and Paid Family Leave benefits for yourself.
  • In this case, no application of voluntary coverage is required; you only need to purchase coverage from an insurance carrier.
  • You must obtain coverage for both disability and PFL benefits. You cannot opt in for only Paid Family Leave.

A list of insurers offering Paid Family Leave policies is available on the Department of Financial Services website.

Opt In Deadlines

If you are a self-employed person who wishes to opt in to Paid Family Leave, you must obtain a policy before January 1, 2018, or within the first 26 weeks after starting your business to avoid a waiting period.

After these deadlines, you may still get a Paid Family Leave policy, however benefits are not payable until after a two-year waiting period. 

Eligibility for Self-Employed Persons

As a self-employed person, your eligibility to take Paid Family Leave depends on when you sign up for your policy.

  • If you opted in to Paid Family Leave before January 1, 2018:
    • You may take Paid Family Leave after having been self-employed for 26 consecutive weeks, even if some of those weeks were before you obtained a policy.
    • For example, if you obtained a policy before January 1, 2018 and you were self-employed for at least 26 consecutive weeks prior to obtaining the policy, you are immediately eligible to take Paid Family Leave if you experience a qualifying event. 
  • If you opted in to Paid Family Leave after January 1, 2018 and within 26 weeks of starting your business:
    • You may take Paid Family Leave after having been self-employed for 26 consecutive weeks.
  • If you opted in to Paid Family Leave after January 1, 2018 but after 26 weeks of starting your business:
    • You may take Paid Family Leave after having your Paid Family Leave policy for two years.

Determining benefits

PFL benefits are based on an employee’s average weekly wage. For self-employed individuals, your average weekly wage is calculated by dividing your total earnings over the previous 52 weeks by 52.

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