What is the 12-week paid family leave law and how will it affect NY employees?
Until recently, major family changes were made much more difficult because of employment obligations. The birth of a new baby, the illness of a close family member, or the call to active duty of a family member in the military often threw the whole family constellation out of whack. The new legislation, signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 4th, however, will help to give peace of mind to a great many families in the state. As of the implementation of this legislation, referred to as the “Paid Leave Law,” an employee in New York will be permitted up to 12 weeks of paid leave under any of the following circumstances:
- To care for a new child in the family. This leave may be taken during any time during the 12 months after a birth, adoption, or foster care placement, and applies to both male and female employees.
- To care for an ailing member of the family with a serious health condition.
- To relieve pressure in the family when a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent is called to
active military service.
For the purposes of caring for an ill family member, “family” is defined as a child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, domestic partner or spouse. The legislation does permit employers to limit family leave when two employees request family leave to care for the same family member.
Family Leave Amendment Will Be Implemented Gradually
To ensure smooth implementation of the new legislation, and to relieve any potential negative impact on businesses, the plan will go into effect gradually. Beginning on January 1, 2018, employees will be entitled to 8 weeks of paid leave, earning 50 percent of their weekly pay. The amount they collect will be capped at 50 percent of the statewide average. In the following years, the number of weeks of paid leave, and the amount of pay received, will increase incrementally until, by 2021, employees will be eligible for the full 12 weeks of leave at 67 percent of their weekly pay (capped at 67 percent of the statewide average).
Certain prerequisites are built into the new law. Though, unlike disability benefits in New York State, there will be no waiting period before the employee can receive benefits, in order to be eligible for paid family leave the employee will be required to have worked for the employer in question for at least 6 months.
Another aspect of the law, designed to prevent too much negative impact on the employer’s bottom line, states that the paid family leave will be funded by a weekly deduction from each employee’s paycheck. This will be an insignificant amount for each employee, however, amounting to approximately $1 per week.
Although the new law will not go into effect you a year and a half, government officials recommend that employers begin preparing for the changes as soon as possible since there will certainly be administrative costs and adjustments to employee absences associated with the new law.
Changes to laws relating to employer/employee relations can be confusing to both parties. For any questions about how to implement the new law as an employer or about how this change in legislation will affect you in the future as an employee, or with any another questions about business law, you should contact an experienced and skilled business attorney.