Are you ready for New York’s Paid Family Leave (NYPFL)? Beginning January 1, 2018, all New York employers will need to provide their New York employees with job-protected, paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition, or to help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. The final regulations provide additional information.

Essentially, NYPFL provides eligible employees with job-protected leave while still being paid a portion of their income. Like the federal Family & Medical Leave Act, employees are also guaranteed job restoration to the same or comparable job and the continuation of their health insurance during paid leave, so long as employees timely pay their respective portion of premium costs.

An employee qualifies for benefits where he or she regularly works a schedule of: (1) 20 or more hours per week (eligible after 26 weeks of employment); or (2) less than 20 hours per week (eligible after 175 days worked).

NYPFL is designed to phase-in over four years in order to ultimately provide up to twelve weeks of benefits to eligible employees. NYPFL is entirely employee funded through payroll deductions. The maximum employee contribution in 2018 is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, capped at 0.126% of the annually-calculated New York State Average Weekly Wage.

Benefits will be administered through the employer’s insurance carrier and many carriers are already in the process of establishing detailed claims processes.

Discrimination and/or retaliation against employees who exercise their leave rights is strictly prohibited.

The Employer’s Checklist

Ensure That Your Company Has Paid Family Leave Insurance. The best way to do this is to contact your broker or insurer to get information about available policies. Paid Family Leave insurance will generally be added to your current disability insurance policy.

Post a Workforce Notice. Your insurance carrier will provide you with a Notice of Compliance setting forth evidence that the employer has a Paid Family Leave insurance policy. Post and maintain this notice in a conspicuous place, such as with your company’s other workplace posters.

Inform Your Employees About Paid Family Leave. Review and update your employment handbook and other policies to include information about Paid Family Leave. The State has released a Statement of Rights which can be found here. Employers should distribute this notice prior to January 1, 2018 and include it with their new hire paperwork or as an appendix to the company handbook.

Contact Your Payroll Provider to Update Employee Contribution Withholdings. You can begin withholding employee-contributions now. Your Payroll Provider can help estimate deductions and more information can be found here.

Obtain All Available Template Forms. Employers can find all requisite forms here.

Inform Non-Eligible Employees About Waivers. Identify employees who will not qualify for the minimum amount of time required for eligibility, such as temporary or seasonal workers, and inform them about waivers. In this case, employees will need to complete a waiver form, which should be kept on file. This waiver is purely optional at the employee’s discretion and may be revoked at any time.

The Bottom Line

New York employers need to get ready for New York Paid Family Leave. All employers should carefully consider employee requests for leave and seek advice from counsel. The interplay between job protection leave statutes can be very tricky.