In 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law.
The measure offers eligible employees a maximum of 12 weeks of paid family leave, funded through payroll taxes on all part-time and full-time employees. The leave must be used to care for an infant, to care for a family member with a serious health condition or to assist with various family obligations after a family member is called to active service in the U.S. military.
In late February, the state of New York filed proposed regulations for the implementation of this new law. Below are a few of the most important elements of those regulations:
Coordinating with other leaves
Under the new rules, any employees who qualify for both the new state-paid family leave and Family & Medical Leave Act must use leave under both rules simultaneously. However, employers may not use FLMA and PFLBL leave to stack up more than 12 weeks of family medical leave, and they may not receive paid leave greater than the maximum amount of leave allowed at the time as outlined by the phase-in schedule.
Under the proposed rules, both full- and part-time employees are eligible for paid family leave benefits. There are slightly different eligibility requirements for each category of employee, however. Full-time workers qualify after 26 straight weeks of work, while part-time workers are eligible as soon as they hit their 175th day of work. This is regardless of how many hours they work per week and how many employees the business or organization has.
Under the new legislation, there are many more alternative dispute resolution methods available for claims. If these methods are adopted, all claim-related disputes under the PFLBL—such as benefit rate, eligibility or duration of paid leave disputes—will go through mandatory arbitration. Arbitrators will then decide the cases they oversee based on written submissions only, without holding hearings. However, arbitrators will have the power to hold hearings to gather oral testimony if they deem it necessary to do so.
Health insurance during PFLBL leave
Employers must continue providing health insurance coverage to employees while they are on paid family leave, and employees must continue to pay their share of those premiums during leave—even if rates change in their absence. Employers may end coverage for employees who are late in paying their premiums by more than 30 days, but must mail notice of terminated coverage at least 15 days in advance.
A state fund, private carrier or insurer is required to ask employees to choose their method of payment for family leave benefits as soon as they receive a claim. Payment methods may include debit card, check or direct deposit.
These are just a few of the most important elements of the upcoming PFLBL regulations. For more information on the changes, speak with a knowledgeable wage and overtime attorney in New York at Cilenti & Cooper, PLLC.