Paid Time Off for New Parents, Caretakers for Sick Relatives, and Those with Family Members Deployed on Active Military Service Abroad; New Yorkers Can Begin Taking Leave on January 1, 2018.
Albany, NY - December 18, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the nation's strongest, most progressive and most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy. Starting January 1, 2018, New Yorkers will have job-protected paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition or help relieve family pressures when a loved one is called to active military service abroad. When fully phased in, New Yorkers will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid time off.
"Our strongest-in-the-nation Paid Family Leave policy will 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 will help improve the lives of workers across this great state and I am proud to enact this landmark legislation to help move New York forward."
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "Governor Cuomo has been a true champion for working families. By establishing the nation's most comprehensive paid family leave program, New York State is saying it understands nobody should have to make the choice between earning a paycheck and caring for a sick child or ailing parent. New York's new paid family leave program will be a gold standard for other states to follow."
Those eligible for Paid Family Leave include:
Parents during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child;
Caretakers for a sick spouse, domestic partner, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandchild;
Employees with a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent who has been notified of an order of active military service abroad.
Full-time employees with a regular schedule of 20 or more hours a week will be eligible for Paid Family Leave after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Part-time employees with a regular schedule of less than 20 hours a week can apply for Paid Family Leave after working 175 days for their employer.
Insurance Coverage: Paid Family Leave coverage will typically be included as a rider to an employer's existing disability insurance policy, and will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions. In 2018, the employee contribution is 0.126 percent of an employee's weekly wage, capped at 0.126 percent of the New York State Average Weekly Wage. The program is mandatory for nearly all private employers. Public employers may opt into the program.
Phase-in Schedule: Paid Family Leave will be phased in over four years, beginning January 1, 2018. In 2018, employees may take up to eight weeks of paid leave at 50 percent of their average weekly wage up to 50 percent of the New York State Average Weekly Wage. That increases to 12 weeks of paid leave in 2021 paid at 67 percent of an employee's average weekly wage up to 67 percent of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.
Beth Finkel, State Director, AARP New York, said, "New York's Paid Family Leave program will provide critical support to New Yorkers caring for older loved ones. No one should ever be forced to choose between caring for a family member and risking their economic security. AARP will continue our hard work to educate New Yorkers about this important new benefit."
Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President, A Better Balance, said, "In three weeks, New York's landmark paid leave law will benefit millions of New York families and enable workers to breathe more easily knowing they can pay the bills when they take time off to welcome a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, or address the impact of military deployment. A Better Balance is proud of our decade long fight for this groundbreaking law and grateful for Governor Cuomo's bold leadership and commitment to ensuring New Yorker's can take advantage of this critical benefit."
Donna Dolan, Executive Director, New York Paid Leave Coalition, said, "Starting January 1st, New Yorkers will no longer have to choose between bonding with a new child or caring for a seriously ill family member and being able to pay their bills. This is an exciting moment for our state and the culmination of decades of work by elected leaders, advocates, activists, workers, and families around the state. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of New Yorkers joined the movement to make this day happen. Now we embark on the next step: educating New Yorkers about how to use this program for those critical moments in life."
Erik Rettig, Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Director, Small Business Majority, said, "New York's paid family leave insurance program will provide a big benefit to small businesses. Many small employers want to offer paid leave benefits to their employees, but simply don't have the resources to do so. And we know small business owners strongly favor this type of law. In fact, Small Business Majority's scientific opinion polling found the vast majority of New York small business owners support publicly-administered family medical leave insurance programs funded by modest contributions from employees. Small business owners support policies like these because they know paid leave benefits can help attract and retain talented employees, and because it allows small businesses to offer a benefit that is typically reserved for larger firms at no added cost. By implementing a statewide paid leave insurance program, New York is helping level the playing field for small businesses."
The United States is far behind other countries when it comes to paid family leave. Currently, just 14 percent of the U.S. workforce has access to employer-sponsored paid family leave. The numbers are even worse for low-wage workers, 94 percent of whom have no access to paid family leave. In New York, they now will.
Since Paid Family Leave became law in 2016, the state has focused on getting the word out so New Yorkers can take full advantage of the benefits heading into 2018, with outreach efforts reaching millions of people:
1.1 million unique visitors to New York's dedicated website;
27,000 calls have been handled by NYS's toll-free PFL Helpline;
1.7 million people have been reached via social media; and
500,000 businesses have been contacted via U.S. Mail.
Additional information on New York State's Paid Family Leave law, along with numerous resources for employers and workers, can be found on the Paid Family Leave website, www.ny.gov/PaidFamilyLeave. The public is also encouraged to call the Paid Family Leave helpline at (844) 337-6303 with any questions.