In the midst of all the proposed cuts to programs at the federal level which will make life more difficult for families and persons in need, it is great to know that the fruits of our advocacy work to established the New York State Paid Family Leave program are soon to become a reality. New York State’s program which was enacted in 2016 will go into effect on January 1, 2018 for all employees of private employers who must offer it on that date. Public employers may opt into the program. However, employers can start taking the deductions beginning July 1, 2017. The program will be run through the disability system which each employer is required to pay into.
Employees can access the program if they have worked for 26 weeks full time or 175 days part-time and can take up to 8 weeks paid leave at 50% of their salary in 2018. Programs benefits will be phased in over several years until reaching 12 weeks at 67% of weekly salary in 2021.
Employees do not have to use all their sick or vacation time in order to use the paid family leave benefit. They will have to keep paying the premium while on paid family leave. The contribution rate for 2018 has been set at 0.126% of each employee’s weekly wage. This means the maximum contribution is $1.65/week for each employee in 2018, regardless of age, gender, and other traits. For example, an employee making $15/hr would contribute $0.756/week and an employee making $25/hr would contribute $1.26/week.
Employees may be approved for paid family leave to care for family members under three broad categories: birth of a newborn, care of a sick relative or military leave when a spouse is actively deployed. Medical documentation will be required. The program lists those relatives who a family member could care for to be eligible for the program: