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Eligibility

Who is eligible for Paid Family Leave?
Eligibility
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Becoming Eligible

Most employees who work in New York State for private employers are eligible to take Paid Family Leave.  

 

However, under the Paid Family Leave law, some categories of workers are excluded from the definition of “employee” and “employment.”  Examples include licensed ministers, priests or rabbis; persons engaged in a professional or teaching capacity for a not-for-profit; and those who work in service as a golf caddy. Although some categories of workers are not automatically covered for Paid Family Leave, such as those listed here, employers can choose to voluntarily cover them. If you’re not sure if you are covered for Paid Family Leave, you can speak to your employer. If you believe you are eligible, you can apply for Paid Family Leave and the insurance carrier will make the determination.

 

Covered employees become eligible to take Paid Family Leave for a qualifying event once they have met the minimum time-worked requirements:

  • Full-time employees: Employees who work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
  • Part-time employees: Employees who work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after working 175 days, which do not need to be consecutive. Employees with irregular schedules should look at their average schedule to determine if they work, on average, fewer than 20 hours per week.

 

The use of scheduled vacation time; the use of personal, sick or other time away from work that has been approved by the employer; or other periods where the employee is away from work but is still considered to be an employee by the employer, shall be counted as consecutive weeks or consecutive work weeks, or days worked, as long as the contributions to the cost of family leave benefits have been paid for such periods of time.

Once employees meet the eligibility requirements, they remain eligible for that employer until employment is terminated. If employees start a new job, they must work long enough with their new employer to meet the eligibility requirement.

Citizenship and/or immigration status is not a factor in employee eligibility.

Public Employees

Employees who work for public employers may be covered for Paid Family Leave if their employer has voluntarily opted in to provide the benefit. Union-represented public employees may be covered if the benefit has been negotiated through collective bargaining.

 

For more information visit:

Public Employers

Self-Employed Individuals

Self-employed individuals - whether a sole proprietor or independent contractor - can take advantage of New York Paid Family Leave by voluntarily opting in.

 

For more information about opting in visit:

Self-Employed Individuals

Independent Contractors

Independent contractors are not considered employees for purposes of New York State's Disability and Paid Family Leave law. This means that employers are not required to cover independent contractors under their disability and Paid Family Leave policies. However, an independent contractor who is self-employed may voluntarily opt in to become covered under the law by purchasing a disability and Paid Family Leave policy.

If you are unsure whether you are considered an independent contractor or a covered employee, you may apply for Paid Family Leave benefits directly through the insurance carrier, who will make an eligibility determination.

 

For more information about opting in visit:

Self-Employed Individuals

Out-of-State Employees

Paid Family Leave is for employees who work in New York, and where you live does not matter when determining if you are in New York employment. If you are working in New York, your employment is considered New York employment.

If you mostly work in another state but come to New York for sales calls and other meetings, you are probably not eligible. Your employment must be localized in New York State, which means that most of your work is performed in New York, and any work performed outside the state is only incidental or temporary. This also applies if you telecommute from another state for a New York based employer.

Part-time and Seasonal Employees

Part-time

Part-time employees may be eligible for Paid Family Leave.

Part-time employees who work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week for a covered employer are eligible to take Paid Family Leave after working 175 days for their employer, which do not need to be consecutive, unless they qualify for and have executed a waiver. It is not necessary to reach the 175-day threshold in a single year; accumulation can occur over several years.

Part-time employees who work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours a week, are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment for their employer.

Some part-time employees may be able to opt out of Paid Family Leave coverage. Employees are eligible for a waiver if they:

  • Work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week, and will not work 175 days in a year; or
  • Work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week, but won’t be in employment for 26 consecutive weeks.

 

See below for additional information about opting out.

Seasonal

Many seasonal workers are not eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits because they will not meet the requirements for time worked. In order to be eligible for Paid Family Leave, a worker must remain in employment for 26 consecutive weeks if they regularly work 20 or more hours per week, or 175 days if they regularly work less than 20 hours per week.

Some seasonal workers may be terminated at the end of a season and re-hired by the same employer at a later date (for example, a pool lifeguard who returns each summer). These workers would not be eligible as the days or weeks worked for an employer restart each time the employee is re-hired.

Seasonal employees may be eligible to opt out of Paid Family Leave coverage. Employees are eligible for a waiver if they:

  • Work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week, and will not work 175 days in a year; or
  • Work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week, but won’t be in employment for 26 consecutive weeks.

 

See below for additional information about opting out.

Domestic Workers

Domestic workers who are hired directly by a private homeowner and who work 40 or more hours a week for the private homeowner are required to be covered for Paid Family Leave, and are eligible once they have been in employment for 26 consecutive weeks. 

Farm Laborers

Employees who work in service as farm laborers are not covered for Paid Family Leave benefits.

Note: On July 17, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Farm Workers Bill into law, which includes the extension of New York’s disability benefits and Paid Family Leave coverage to eligible farm laborers. The new law takes effect January 1, 2020. For more information, please see our online Toolkit for Farm Employers, Owners and Operators.

Special Employment

General and Special Employment (with more than one employer)

Who is responsible for providing Paid Family Leave coverage in situations where there is both general and special employment?
Employees in certain industries may have more than one employer. Under the Workers’ Compensation Law, a general employee of one employer may be a special employee of another. The general employer pays the employees’ wages and may provide required employee benefits. The special employer takes control of the employee for a limited time. If there is a dispute over who is responsible for Paid Family Leave benefits, general employment is presumed to continue but the special employer would also be liable. While the parties may contract between themselves concerning the scope of their responsibilities, the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board would determine the liable employer if there is a dispute.

A general and special employer may decide between them to designate full responsibility for Paid Family Leave to the general employer. However, absent an agreement otherwise, the general and special employers may both be found liable.

For example, if an employee works for a motion picture project employer (MPPE) as a general employee, and a certain film production company as a special employee, the MPPE may collect employee contributions and provide paid family leave benefits to the employee through its insurance policy, but the special employer also remains liable for compliance absent an agreement providing otherwise or the general employer maintaining control.

How is eligibility determined in general and special employment situations?
There is a relatively long period for employees to acquire eligibility for Paid Family Leave (26 weeks for employees working 20 or more hours per week). An employee’s entire work history with the general employer would count toward their eligibility if the general employer is providing benefits and where the general employer maintains control over the employee. In addition, an employee’s work history with the special employer while on the general employer’s payroll applies toward eligibility when the special employer maintains control.

How should matters of reinstatement be addressed?
The general and special employer should make clear to the employee the general and special employers’ responsibilities concerning the employee’s reinstatement.

Can You Opt Out?

Paid Family Leave is not optional for eligible employees. Coverage can only be waived if:

  • You regularly work 20 hours or more per week, but you won't be in employment with that employer for 26 consecutive weeks; or
  • You regularly work fewer than 20 hours per week and you will not work 175 days in a 52-week period.

Employers must offer a waiver to employees who qualify for one.

If you waive coverage, you will not make contributions and will not be eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits.

 

Paid Family Leave Waiver