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Governor Cuomo Announces Regulations to Implement New York's Nation-Leading Paid Family Leave Program

Governor Cuomo announced that the state has filed regulations for the implementation of New York’s paid family leave program, the most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation.

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Regulations provide guidance to employers, insurance carriers, and employees rights and responsibilities under the nation's strongest paid family leave plan.

Photo by: Benjamin Earwicker, via Free Images.

Albany, NY - February 22, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the state has filed regulations for the implementation of New York’s paid family leave program, the most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation. The new regulations provide guidance to employers, insurance carriers and employees about their rights and responsibilities under the law. New York’s Paid Family Leave Law will provide for 12 weeks of paid leave when fully phased-in for employees who seek to take care for a new child, a close relative with a serious health condition or relieve the pressures created when a family member is called to active military service.
 
The Governor launched a new helpline (844) 337-6303 and a new website to answer questions and provide New Yorkers with more information about the new program. The state also issued a Request for Information to solicit information from potential vendors and develop a leave plan for state employees. The new policy will be phased in over a four-year period, beginning on January 1, 2018.
 
“New York enacted the strongest paid family leave plan in the nation to ensure that no one has to choose between losing a job and missing the birth of a child or being able to spend time with a loved one in their final days,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program is about restoring basic dignity for hardworking men and women and I am proud that New York is continuing to lead the country forward in the march toward economic justice.”
 
Paid Family Leave Regulations
Beginning January 1, 2018, the state’s paid family leave program will provide employees with wage replacement during time away from their job in order to bond with a child, care for a close relative with a serious health condition, or to help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. Employees are also entitled to be reinstated to their job when their leave ends, as well as the continuation of their health insurance.

The regulations filed today provide regulatory guidance to employers, insurance carriers, and employees to clarify their rights and responsibilities under the program so that they can plan accordingly when the new law goes into effect. The regulations also address eligibility, coverage, the phase-in schedule of the new program, and more information on how employees, employers, and insurance carriers will interact to pay out benefits. The full Workers Compensation Board regulations are available here. DFS regulations for insurance companies are available here.

Eligibility: To be eligible for paid family leave, employees must have been employed full-time for 26 weeks or part-time for 175 days by a covered employer, at the time they apply for benefits.

Employees eligible for paid family leave include:

  • New parents during the first 12 months following the birth or adoption of a child;
  • Employees caring for a sick child, parent, or grandparent;
  • Employees with a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent who has been notified of an order of active military duty;
  • Non-citizens who are covered by an employer for the mandatory 26-week period.

To be eligible, employees must present certification from a health care provider treating the family member. For adoption and foster care of child, documentation is also required.

Coverage: The program is included under an employer’s disability policy that all private employers must carry, and will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions—beginning in July 2017. The program is mandatory for all private employers, and public employers may opt-in to the program.

Phase-in Schedule: The new policy will be phased in over four years, beginning January 1, 2018.  A chart detailing the phase-in schedule during the four-year period is below:

Year

Max # of Weeks
(in 52-week period)

Percentage of Employee Salary

Cap Percent of the 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%

When fully phased-in, employees will be eligible to receive 67 percent of their salary during their 12 weeks of leave. If their weekly earnings are greater than the state average weekly wage, their earnings during their leave period will be capped at 67 percent of the state average weekly wage level.

New York State’s paid family leave program marks a pivotal step in the pursuit of equality and dignity in both the workplace and the home.  New York’s paid family leave policy serves as a model for other states and the nation.
   
Request for Information
The state also released a Request for Information to solicit information for use by the New York State Department of Civil Service in developing paid family leave benefits for New York State’s workforce. A copy of the RFI is available here.
 
“These proposed rules will help guide a successful launch to Paid Family Leave in New York,” Workers’ Compensation Board Chair Kenneth J. Munnelly said. “We look forward to public input on this comprehensive set of regulations.”
 
“DFS is proud to implement Governor Cuomo’s vision and provide New Yorkers with the best paid family leave program in the nation,” Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said. “This groundbreaking action ensures that working New Yorkers will not have to make the difficult choice between caring for a loved one, or spending time with a new child, and protecting their paycheck, and strengthens the state’s progressive efforts for full equality for women and their families.”

“The Department of Civil Service looks forward to working closely with partner agencies to assist in the development of the nation’s most comprehensive paid family leave program, which will provide critical support to hard-working New Yorkers, including New York State employees and their families,” said Acting Civil Service Commissioner Lola W. Brabham.

Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo and his administration, specifically the Workers' Compensation Board and the Department of Financial Services, for today's release of the new Paid Family Leave Law's Regulations. This is the eagerly awaited next step in the implementation of this law, which thanks to the Governor and the State Legislature, is the strongest paid family leave law in the country. As advocates, we look forward to working with the State on the education and roll-out of paid family leave. Beginning January 1, 2018, New Yorkers will be able to  take time off to care for a newborn or a seriously ill family member, without suffering financial distress.”

Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President, A Better Balance said, "ABB applauds the Cuomo Administration for issuing regulations on NY's groundbreaking paid family leave law.  Along with a new hotline and multilingual website, these measures demonstrate a commitment to enforce this landmark law.  We are proud to live in a state that recognizes the importance of paid family leave and with the governor's leadership has made it clear that regardless of what happens on the federal level, workers in New York State cannot be forced to make an impossible choice between their job and family.”  

Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research at Community Service Society, and a leader of the Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign said, “With the issuance of regulations today, New York is moving forward with implementing the strongest paid family leave law in the nation. This would not have happened without Governor Cuomo’s strong leadership in making New York the best place to work, give children a healthy start and care for seriously ill loved ones. We are impressed by the administration’s robust efforts to now roll out this landmark law smoothly and successfully, so that it is both easy for employers and helpful to employees.”
 
The proposed paid family leave regulations are subject to a 45-day notice and public comment period following the publication in the New York State register before its final issuance.
 
New York’s Paid Family Leave website has also been updated to reflect information based on the draft regulations. Information on the site will be regularly updated. The public is also encouraged to call the Paid Family Leave helpline at (844) 337-6303 with any questions.