New York’s paid family leave now in effect
Cuomo backs popular perquisite, calls it strongest in U.S.; insurance pays bill
What Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the strongest paid family leave policy in the country launched in New York on Monday. The policy enables most employees to have paid time off from work to bond with a new child, care for close relative with a serious health condition or to help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.
Cuomo said that he was inspired to enhance the state’s policy following his experiences in hospitals last year as his own father, the former Gov. Mario Cuomo, was dying.
A woman who couldn’t afford to take time off from work as her father was dying told Cuomo, “I come in before I go to work in the morning. I get here right after work to spend time with him. I go home, put the kids to bed and then come back to the hospital.”
Employers won’t be stuck with the bill for this new benefit. Employees will pay a small percentage of their wages, capped at less than $2 per week, to cover the cost of premiums on insurance policies that will cover their leave.
Workers with a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 weeks of employment, or with a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week after 175 days worked. According to the NYS Insurance Fund, self-employed individuals with no employees are pre-approved.
Most employees who work for private employers are eligible to take paid family leave. (Public employers may choose to offer it.)
In explaining the law on Sunday, Cuomo said, “You know, when you look back, what are the moments that matter? When the child is born? People get married? Who’s there for you when you’re sick? Do you get quality time to spend when someone is passing and they need peace and they need relaxation? That’s what life is really all about.”
Ten things to know about N.Y.’s new paid family leave:
* Employees are entitled to paid time off for 8 weeks in 2018, increasing to 12 weeks by 2021.
* During 2018, workers on leave will receive 50 percent of their average weekly wage, capped at 50 percent of the New York state average weekly wage ($652.96 this year). By 2021, workers will be eligible for 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped at 50 percent of the New York state average weekly wage.
* Leave coverage is funded by employee payroll contributions. (Use the ny.gov/pflcalculator to get an estimate of the weekly deduction.)
* Employees can continue their health insurance while on leave and are guaranteed the same or a comparable job after the leave ends.
* Leave can be taken either all at once or in full-day increments. The 52-week clock starts on the first day the worker takes paid family leave.
* Workers are eligible regardless of their citizenship and/or immigration status.
* Workers can opt out if they don’t expect to work for the minimum amount of time required for eligibility.
* Employees must notify their employer at least 30 days before their leave will start, if it’s foreseeable. Otherwise, as soon as possible.
* Employees must fill out required forms before going on leave, along with supporting paperwork such as documentation certifying pregnancy, birth or medical condition, copy of foster care paperwork, military duty documents, etc.
* Full information for businesses and employees can be found at https://www.ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-paid-family-leave#_blank
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