If Men Got Pregnant Family Leave Would be 6 Months Long and Fully Paid…

By Jack Tuckner, Esq.

 

…But until that day never comes, working women will just have to settle for working in New York to take advantage of our new and wonderful Paid Family Leave Law, a comprehensive program that will provide compensation to employees who are temporarily out of work to bond with a baby after childbirth, or to care for a close relative who’s dealing with a serious health condition.

Employees are also guaranteed that their jobs will be waiting for them following the paid family leave period, and they can continue with their health insurance coverage during their absence.

Paid Family Leave is designed to phase in over four years, starting on January 1, 2018. Schedule:

Year Weeks Available Max % of Employee Average Weekly Wage Cap % of State Average Weekly Wage
1/1/2018 8 50% 50%
1/1/2019 10 55% 55%
1/1/2020 10 60% 60%
1/1/2021 12 67% 67%

Employees may take the maximum benefit length in any given 52-week period. The maximum benefit is eight weeks during the first year of the program, 10 weeks during the second and third years, and 12 weeks the fourth and all subsequent years, starting on January 1, 2021. The 52-week clock starts ticking on the first day that the employee takes Paid Family Leave.

Paid Family Leave coverage will be included under a disability policy that all employers must now carry. The premium will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions, expected to begin this summer. A maximum rate for employee contributions will be established each year.

 

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Who’s Eligible?                                                                                                                    

Virtually every full-time or part-time private employee in New York State will be eligible for Paid Family Leave. If you are a public employee, your employer may opt into the program, and public employees who are union members may be covered if Paid Family Leave is collectively bargained for with management, so check with your delegate, shop steward or business agent.

An Employee Must be Employed Full-Time for 26 weeks or Part-Time for 175 days to be Eligible for a Paid Family Leave Benefit.                                                                           

Employees are not required to use up their sick leave and/or accrued vacation before using Paid Family Leave. Your company may permit you to use accrued sick time or vacation leave to supplement the Paid Leave so that you may still receive your full weekly pay, but they may not require you to use your accrued paid time off in lieu of taking Paid Family Leave.

Maternity (and Paternity) Leave                                                                                       

Whether you are a parent expecting, fostering or adopting a child, you deserve and need the appropriate time to care for and bond with your child without having to sacrifice your savings or your job. Now, starting in 2018, you may be eligible for up to 8 weeks of employee-funded Paid Family Leave. While the Paid Family Leave length of compensation is still paltry compared with family leave policies throughout the world, the NY Paid Leave Law is still the best in the US.

Paid Family Leave only begins after your baby’s birth or adoption and is not available for prenatal conditions. A parent may take Paid Family Leave during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child.

Caring for a Close Relative with a Serious Health Condition
New Yorkers will now have the right to be with their loved ones in times of physical and emotional need without having to risk their economic security. The time you spend caring for a spouse or family member with a serious health condition is critical. A close relative includes:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Parent in-law
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

  • inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility; or
  • continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider.

For example, you need one or more full days to care for your dad when he undergoes coronary bypass surgery; or your mom is having a hysterectomy and chemotherapy followed by extensive recuperation; or your child is undergoing counseling or psychotherapy for acute emotional distress and is unable to attend school for two months. You can take Paid Family Leave for all these types of situations, and numerous others. The last bullet point above nicely sums up what’s required: As long as you can state that the Paid Family Leave recipient in question is undergoing “continuing treatment” or “supervision” by a health care provider, it’s such a broad definition that it is not a difficult standard to meet to obtain Paid Family Leave coverage.

Active Duty Deployment
Paid Family Leave is available for families eligible for time off under the military provisions in the federal Family Medical Leave Act when a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent of the employee is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order of active duty, yet Paid Family Leave cannot be used for your own disability, or qualifying military event. It may only be taken to care for your:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Child
  • Parent

Cosmetic treatments (such as plastic surgery) are not eligible conditions for Paid Family Leave unless it is inpatient, hospital care is required, or complications develop. Ordinarily, absent complications, a common cold, the flu, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, headaches other than chronic migraines, routine dental or orthodontia problems, periodontal disease, etc., are examples of conditions that do not meet the definition of a serious health condition, so they would not qualify for Paid Family Leave.

 

The Paid Family Leave Benefits: Not Too Shabby

Year Weeks Available Max % of Employee Average Weekly Wage Cap % of State Average Weekly Wage
1/1/2018 8 50% 50%
1/1/2019 10 55% 55%
1/1/2020 10 60% 60%
1/1/2021 12 67% 67%

For example, in 2018, an employee who makes $1,000 a week would receive a benefit of $500 a week (50% of $1,000). Another employee who makes $2,000 a week would receive a benefit of approximately $652.96, because this employee is capped at one-half of New York State’s Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW), which is currently $1,305.92, as of 2016.  Half of that amount is the $652.96 benefit.

The Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is set every year after a comprehensive analysis by the New York State Department of Labor.

Learn more about applying for benefits.

The maximum Paid Family Leave benefit is based on the New York State Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW). The 2016 AWW used for this calculation is $1,305.92. The AWW is updated annually on July 1 and is available here.