If you are a private sector employer in the state of New York with at least 1 employee, on January 1, 2018 you became obligated to comply with the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (“Paid Family Leave Law”). The following is a list of things you should consider to make sure you are satisfying your legal obligations.
- Confirm You Have Paid Family Leave Coverage
If you have an existing disability leave insurance policy, you should contact your insurer to confirm that Paid Family Leave insurance was automatically added to your existing disability benefits policy as of January 1, 2018. If you are self-insured for disability you must purchase a separate Paid Family Leave policy or apply to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board to self-insure.
- Provide Notice to Your Employees
The Paid Family Leave Law requires that you inform your employees about their rights and obligations. If you have an employee handbook then you can satisfy this notice requirement by updating it to include information concerning the Paid Family Leave Law and making sure the updated handbook is distributed to all employees. If you do not have a handbook, you must provide a written notice to your employees. You must also post and maintain a “Notice to Employees” in plain view. The “Notice to Employees” form can be obtained through your insurance carrier or the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board.
- Update Your Payroll Process
Paid Family Leave is funded by employee payroll deductions. You are responsible for withholding contributions and using that money to pay your Paid Family Leave insurance premium. If you have not already done so, you should update your payroll process to collect these contributions. The payroll contribution rate for 2018 is 0.126% of the employee’s weekly wage and is capped at $85.56.
- Offer Waivers
An employee can opt out of Paid Family Leave payroll deductions if he or she does not expect to work the minimum amount of time required for eligibility (e.g. temporary or seasonal employees). You should identify and provide such employees with a waiver form. Forms can be found at www.ny.gov/PaidFamilyLeave. For full time employees the minimum amount of time required for eligibility is 20 hours or more per week for 26 consecutive weeks. For part-time employees the minimum amount of time required for eligibility is 20 hours per week for 175 days (does not need to be consecutive days). If the employee’s schedule changes so that he or she becomes eligible for Paid Family Leave, the waiver will be automatically revoked.
- Prepare for Leave Requests
You should prepare yourself for increased employee absences if the Paid Family Leave Law is more generous than your current leave policy. An employee can apply for Paid Family Leave to (a) bond with a newly born, adopted or fostered child; (b) care for a family member with a serious health condition; or (c) assist a loved one when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service. An employee who takes Paid Family Leave is entitled to paid time off and a continuation of his or her health insurance for 8 weeks in 2018 (increasing to 12 weeks by 2021). If you contribute to the cost of the employee’s health insurance you must continue to pay that portion of the cost while they are out on leave. You must also guarantee the employee the same or a comparable job after his or her leave ends.
You should also familiarize yourself with the Paid Family Leave application form and have it accessible to any employee who wishes to apply for Paid Family Leave. You are required to complete part of the application form and return it to the applicant-employee within three-business days. It is best practice to retain a copy of the completed application form for your records. The applicant-employee is responsible for submitting a complete application to your insurance carrier who will grant or deny the applicant-employee’s request.
Should you have any questions regarding how to comply with your obligations under the New York Paid Family Leave Law, please contact Lance H. Klein.