New York is Making History:
In 2016, Governor Cuomo signed a new law, which will take effect in a few short months, creating the strongest and most comprehensive paid family leave act in the country.
The act will take effect on January 1, 2018 allowing New York residents to take paid leave to bond with a new child, adopted or born into a family, take care of a family member with urgent health concerns, and even take the needed time to adjust when a family member is called to active military service. No other state in the country offers such a comprehensive policy that protects job security, medical benefits coverage and paid family leave as well.
New York’s Paid Family Leave will now provide a fair wage replacement for an individual who qualifies according to specific stipulations. Employers have to guarantee an employee's position will be available when the individual is able to return and their health insurance will continue throughout, as long as the employee continues to pay his or her portion of the health insurance as if he or she were receiving a standard paycheck from the company.
The first year of the plan will allow for a qualifying individual to receive 8 weeks off and 50% of their salary during their paid time off. In 2019, this number increases to 10 weeks and 55%. In 2020, the numbers will increase to 60%. Finally, in 2021, the numbers increase to 12 weeks and 67%.
However, in all of these circumstances, you may not take home more than the maximum percentage of the NY State Average Weekly Wage. This time off can be used in consecutive weeks or spread out throughout a 52 week period. This coverage will be fully-funded by employee payroll deductions and included in the business's statutory disability coverage.
How This Will Effect Employers:
All employers are required to participate in the New York Paid Family Leave program. Upon the renewal of a business's statutory disability benefit, employers will be automatically billed for the New York Paid Family Leave program. Employers have the option to pay for these costs themselves, or they can issue a deduction from their employee's gross incomes. If an employer elects to delegate payment to its employees, the deduction will appear on the employee's pay-stub, which will look similar to a tax deduction.
Draft regulations state an employee who is provided health insurance by his or her employer is entitled to the continuation of that group health insurance coverage during Paid Family Leave on the same terms as if he or she had continued to work. Employees must continue to make their regular contributions to the cost of their health insurance premium.
Anyone who is a full or part-time private employee in New York State may be eligible for this coverage if they have been employed for at least 26 weeks or 175 days, if part-time. Participation in the program is mandatory, and therefore, it is advised to utilze it when eligible. The bad news is public employees may not be covered by this program unless their employers opt into the program or the union negotiates that it is part of the contract. Unfortunately, this does not apply to any prenatal issues and is only available after the birth or adoption of the child.
Once the basic measure of eligibility is determined, you must determine if your situation makes you eligible to use the benefit. The first thought everyone considered in this situation is maternity and paternity leave. Under this benefit, you may take up to 8 weeks in 2018 and 12 weeks by 2021 to bond with your newly born, fostered or adopted child. This applies to both mothers and fathers.
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