FamilyAs of January 1, 2019, the length of paid leave and amount of weekly benefits under the New York Paid Family Leave Act (“PFLA”) increased, the first of three yearly increases.  The PFLA, which took effect in 2018, provides eligible employees with job-protected, paid time off to (1) bond with a child, (2) care for a sick family member, or (3) assist family when a service member is deployed abroad.

Offering leave under the PFLA is required of all New York private employers.  Employees, regardless of their citizenship and/or immigration status, are eligible for paid family leave under the law if they work (i) 20 or more hours per week for 26 consecutive weeks or (ii) less than 20 hours per week for 175 days.

In 2018, employees were eligible to earn 50% of their average weekly salary and take a maximum of eight weeks of paid leave of absence within a 52-consecutive week period.  Beginning on or after January 1, 2019, leaves of absence taken under the PFLA will increase to a maximum of 10 weeks, and the benefit amount will also increase to 55% of an employee’s average weekly salary, up to a cap set at 55% of the state average weekly wage.  In 2019, the PFLA benefits will be calculated based on the 2017 New York State average weekly wage, which is $1,357.11, so the new maximum weekly benefit will be $746.41 per week.

The benefits are funded through payroll deductions from all eligible employees. An employee’s mandatory payroll contribution toward the PFLA is also scheduled to increase beginning on January 1, 2019.  The deduction amount will rise to 0.153% of an employee’s weekly salary, at an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $107.97, an increase from the 2018 deduction amount, which was 0.126% of an employee’s weekly salary, with an annual cap of $85.56.  These new changes to the PFLA are summarized in the table below:

PFLA Benefits 2019 2018
Time Off 10 Weeks 8 Weeks
Weekly Benefit 55%

(up to $746.41)

50%

(up to $652.96)

Employee Contribution 0.153% of gross wages

(annual cap of $107.97)

0.126% of gross wages

(annual cap of $85.56)

As a reminder, in 2020, the maximum length of leave will stay at 10 weeks, but the benefits will be calculated based on 60% of an employee’s average weekly wage, up to a cap set at 60% of the state average weekly wage.  In 2021, the last of the annual increases will go into effect, with the maximum length of paid leave increasing to 12 weeks in a 52-consecutive week period and benefits payable based on 67% of an employee’s average weekly wage, up to a cap set at 67% of the state average weekly wage.

Employers should confirm their 2019 paid family leave premiums with their insurance carriers and coordinate with their payroll providers to make sure that 2019 payroll will include the correct contribution rates.  Written employment policy documents will also need to be updated if they include the specific PFLA benefit or deduction levels.

If you have questions about the PFLA, please contact us.