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Paid Family Leave: Information for Employees

Paid Family Leave: Information for Employees
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Overview

As of January 1, 2018, most employees who work in New York State for private employers1 are eligible to take Paid Family Leave. If you are a public employee2, your employer may choose to offer Paid Family Leave.

New York’s Paid Family Leave provides job-protected, paid time off so you can:

  • bond with a newly born, adopted or fostered child;
  • care for a close relative with a serious health condition; or
  • assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.

 

You can continue your health insurance while on leave and are guaranteed the same or a comparable job after your leave ends. If you contribute to the cost of your health insurance, you must continue to pay your portion of the premium cost while on Paid Family Leave.

Click the topics in the left navigation for details on benefits, eligibility, how to apply and more.


TOP QUESTIONS FROM EMPLOYEES

  • How long do I have to work to be eligible?
    • Full-time employees, who work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week, are eligible for Paid Family Leave after 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
    • Part-time 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.
       
  • How do I apply?
    There are four basic steps for an employee to request Paid Family Leave:
  1. First, you must notify your employer at least 30 days before your leave will start, if it’s foreseeable. Otherwise, notify your employer as soon as possible.
     
  2. Next, obtain the request form package for the type of leave you need to take (from your employer, your employer’s insurance carrier or directly from this website) and complete the Request For Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1), following the instructions on the cover sheet. Make a copy for your records, and submit it to your employer.
     
  3. The employer must fill out their section of the form and return it to you within three business days.
     
  4. You then submit Form PFL-1, the other request forms specific to the leave you are taking, and supporting documentation directly to your employer’s Paid Family Leave insurance carrier. You can submit your request before or within 30 days after the start of your leave.

    The insurance carrier must pay or deny your request within 18 calendar days of receiving the completed request. Visit the How to Apply section for complete details and links to forms.
     
  • Can I take both temporary/short-term disability and Paid Family Leave?
    Yes, but not at the same time. You can take short-term disability and then Paid Family Leave, or Paid Family Leave and then short-term disability, if you qualify. For example, if a mother qualifies for short-term disability after giving birth, she can take short-term disability first and then Paid Family Leave. You cannot take more than 26 weeks of combined short-term disability and Paid Family Leave in a 52-week period.
     
  • If I am taking Paid Family Leave, when will I be paid?
    The insurance carrier has 18 days after receipt of a completed request for Paid Family Leave to pay or deny the claim, and after the initial payment, will pay benefits bi-weekly.
     
  • Where do I send my completed request forms and documentation?
    Your completed request should be sent to your employer’s Paid Family Leave insurance carrier at the address provided in the PFL-1 Form Part B, Question 13 (the section your employer completed), or directly to your employer if they are self-insured. If the information is not on the form:
    • ask your employer for the carrier’s address, or
    • contact the Paid Family Leave Helpline at 844-337-6303 for assistance.

 

For more frequently asked questions and answers, visit the FAQ page of this website.

1 A private employee is someone who does not work for the State, any political subdivision of the state, a public authority or any governmental agency or instrumentality.
2 A public employee is someone who does work for the State, any political subdivision of the state, a public authority or any governmental agency or instrumentality.

Benefits

Paid Family Leave benefits phase in over four years. During 2018, you can take up to eight weeks of Paid Family Leave and receive 50% of your average weekly wage (AWW), capped at 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW). Your AWW is the average of your last eight weeks of pay prior to starting Paid Family Leave. The SAWW is updated annually.

 

Paid Family Leave Benefits Examples for 2018
Worker's average weekly wage Weekly PFL Benefit (2018)*
$600 $300
$1,000 $500
$2,000 $652.96

*The weekly PFL benefit is capped at 50% of the New York State average weekly wage, which is $652.96.

 

Benefits Increase Through 2021
Year Weeks of Leave Benefit
2018 8 weeks 50% of employee's AWW, up to 50% of SAWW
2019 10 weeks 55% of employee's AWW, up to 55% of SAWW
2020 10 weeks 60% of employee's AWW, up to 60% of SAWW
2021 12 weeks 67% of employee's AWW, up to 67% of SAWW

 

In 2018, the Paid Family Leave benefit is 50% of your average weekly wage, capped at 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.

Example: An employee who makes $1,000 a week would receive a benefit of $500 a week (50% of $1,000). Another employee who makes $2,000 a week would receive a benefit of $652.96, because this employee is capped at one-half of New York State's Average Weekly Wage —currently $1,305.92. Half of that amount is $652.96.

To estimate your Paid Family Leave benefits, use the Weekly Benefits Calculator.

Leave can be taken either all at once or in full-day increments. You may take the maximum time-off benefit in any given 52-week period. The 52-week clock starts on the first day you take Paid Family Leave. 

Eligibility

All eligible employees are entitled to participate in Paid Family Leave.

  • Full-time employees: If you work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week, you are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
  • Part-time employees: If you work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week, you are eligible after working 175 days, which do not need to be consecutive.
  • You are eligible regardless of your citizenship and/or immigration status.

Bonding Leave

Whether you are a parent expecting, adopting or fostering a child, you deserve to take time to bond with your child without having to sacrifice your savings or your job. In 2018, you may be eligible to take up to eight weeks of Paid Family Leave.

Paid Family Leave only begins after birth and is not available for prenatal conditions. A parent may take Paid Family Leave during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.


Caring for a Close Relative with a Serious Health Condition

New Yorkers have the right to be with their families in times of need without having to put their economic security at risk. The time you spend caring for a loved one with a serious health condition is critical. Under Paid Family Leave, the list of family members you can take care of is expansive and includes:

  • spouse
  • domestic partner (including same and different gender couples; legal registration not required)
  • child/stepchild and anyone for whom you have legal custody
  • parent/stepparent
  • parent-in-law
  • grandparent
  • grandchild

If you are serving in the role of a parent for a child (‘in loco parentis’), even if you are not legally or biologically related to the child, you may be eligible to take Paid Family Leave for that child. Similarly, if someone stood ‘in loco parentis’ to you when you were a child, you may be able to take leave to care for them. Your insurer may ask for a simple statement of the parental relationship or for other reasonable documentation to demonstrate how you stand in loco parentis to the child or how the person in need of care stood in loco parentis to you when you were a child.

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

  • inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility; or
  • continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider.

For example, you need one or more full days to care for your mom when she undergoes chemotherapy; or your dad is having surgery followed by extensive recuperation; or your child is undergoing intense psychotherapy and is unable to attend school for a period of time; or a family member is seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. These are all situations where you can take Paid Family Leave.

Cosmetic treatments (such as plastic surgery) are not eligible conditions unless inpatient hospital care is required or complications develop. Ordinarily, unless complications arise, the common cold, the flu, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, headaches other than migraine, routine dental or orthodontia problems, periodontal disease, etc., are examples of conditions that do not meet the definition of a serious health condition and would not qualify for Paid Family Leave.

Military Active Duty Deployment


You can take Paid Family Leave to assist with family situations arising when your

  • spouse,
  • domestic partner,
  • child, or
  • parent

is deployed abroad on active military service or has been notified of an impending military deployment abroad. You cannot use Paid Family Leave for your own qualifying military event.

Cost and Deductions

You pay for these benefits through a small weekly payroll deduction, which is a percentage of your weekly wage up to a cap set annually.

The 2018 payroll contribution is 0.126% of your weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $85.56. If you earn less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1305.92 per week), you will have an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $85.56, consistent with your actual weekly wages. For example, in 2018, if you earn $27,000 a year ($519 a week), you will pay 65 cents per week.

 

To estimate your deduction, use the payroll deduction calculator:

Weekly Payroll Deduction Calculator

 

Note:  If you believe there is an error with your current payroll deduction, raise the issue with your employer. If your employer fails to address the issue, you can file a complaint online or call the Paid Family Leave Helpline at 844-337-6303. 

Opting Out/Waivers

You can opt out of Paid Family Leave if you do not expect to work for your employer for the minimum amount of time required for eligibility. If you meet this criteria and wish to opt out, you can do so by completing a Paid Family Leave Waiver. A waiver of family leave benefits may be filed when:

  • Your schedule is 20 hours or more per week, but you will not work 26 consecutive weeks; or
  • Your schedule is less than 20 hours per week and you will not work 175 days in a 52 consecutive week period.

Employers should keep completed waivers on file. Your waiver will be automatically revoked if your schedule changes or you may voluntarily revoke it at any time.

How to Apply for Benefits

Your employer’s insurance carrier will receive and process requests for Paid Family Leave, and make your benefit payments. If your employer self-insures, they will receive and process requests, and make benefit payments. You are responsible for notifying your employer if you intend to request Paid Family Leave benefits.

Here’s what you need to do to request Paid Family Leave:

  1. Notify your employer. When you want to take Paid Family Leave, you must notify your employer at least 30 days before your leave will start, if it’s foreseeable. Otherwise, notify your employer as soon as possible.
     
  2. Obtain required forms. Contact your employer or employer’s insurance carrier to obtain the required forms, or download them here by selecting the link below for the type of leave you’re requesting:
     
  1. Complete and submit forms. Fill out the Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1), following the instructions on the cover sheet, make a copy for your records, and submit it to your employer. Your employer must fill out their section of the form and return it to you within three business days. If your employer fails to respond, you may proceed to the next step below and submit all materials directly to your employer’s Paid Family Leave insurance carrier.
     
  2. Obtain and attach supporting documentation. The specific documentation and additional forms required for each type of leave are described on the request forms and listed below.
     
  3. Submit your request forms and supporting documentation. Submit to your employer’s Paid Family Leave insurance carrier. You can submit your claim before or within 30 days after the start of your leave. The insurance carrier must pay benefits or deny your request within 18 calendar days of receiving your completed request. 

 

NOTE: If your employer is self-insured (i.e., serving as the Paid Family Leave insurer as opposed to providing coverage through a separate insurance carrier), you don’t need to submit Form PFL-1 first as described above in step 3; you can submit all forms and documentation to your employer at once. 

If you do not know who your employer’s insurance carrier is, please contact your employer’s human resources department. If your employer does not have a human resources department, ask your employer or refer to the Paid Family Leave Compliance poster. If the insurance carrier is still not identified, please contact the Paid Family Leave Helpline at 844-337-6303.

If you have a complaint or dispute regarding Paid Family Leave benefits or wage deductions, information and instructions can be found in the Complaints section of this page.  

You can get more information about filing a claim by calling the Paid Family Leave toll-free helpline at (844) 337-6303.

Required Supporting Documentation

When requesting Paid Family Leave, you will need to file a Request for Paid Family Leave form as well as documentation in support of your Paid Family Leave request. The specific documentation required varies based on the type of leave, as outlined below:

For the Birth of a Child:

The birth mother will need the following documentation:

  • Birth certificate, or
  • Documentation of pregnancy or birth from a health care provider (includes mother’s name and due/birth dates)
     

A second parent will need the following documentation:

  • Birth certificate, or if not available, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or court order of filiation; or
  • A copy of documentation of pregnancy or birth from a health care provider (includes mother's name and due/birth dates) and a second document verifying the parent's relationship with the birth mother or child

For Foster Care:

  • Letter of placement issued by county or city department of social services or local voluntary agency
  • If second parent is not named in documentation, a copy of that document plus a second document verifying relationship to the parent named in the foster care placement

For Adoption:

  • Legal evidence of adoption process
  • If second parent is not named in legal documents, the second parent must provide a copy of the legal evidence of adoption process and a second document verifying the relationship to the parent named in the document

For Leave to Care for a Serious Medical Condition:

If you are planning to request Paid Family Leave to care for a family member with serious health condition, make sure their health care provider completes the Health Care Provider Certification for Care of a Family Member with Serious Health Condition (Form PFL-4) as soon as possible. This form is a required part of your request for Paid Family Leave, so it must be submitted to your employer’s Paid Family Leave insurance carrier within 30 days of the first date you take Paid Family Leave.  

Here are some tips on how you can coordinate with your family member and their health care provider: 

  • With your family member’s permission, accompany them to a visit with their health care provider. Ask the health care provider to complete the certification form and return it to you or your family member within a timely manner.
  • Notify the health care provider that you must submit your completed request to your employer’s insurance carrier within 30 days of the start of your leave or you’ll risk losing Paid Family Leave benefits, so their prompt completion of the form is crucial. 
  • Remind your family member to follow up or ask if you can follow up with their health care provider if you have not received the certification form. 
  • You can help the health care provider complete the form in a timely manner by completing all of the information on the form that is to be filled out by the employee. 

For Military-related Leave:

  • US Department of Labor Military Family Leave Certification (Federal Military Leave Form)
  • Copy of Military Duty Papers
  • Other documentation supporting the reason for the leave (copy of meeting notice or other meeting documentation, ceremony details, rest and recuperation orders, etc.)

FAQs & Other Resources

Complaints

Benefit/Denial Disputes

If your Paid Family Leave request is denied, you may request to have the denial reviewed by a neutral arbitrator. Arbitration will be handled by NAM (National Arbitration and Mediation). Your insurance carrier (or employer, if self-insured) will provide you with the reason for denial and information about requesting arbitration, or you can visit the arbitrator’s website at www.nyspfla.com.

Protection from Discrimination and Retaliation

Your employer cannot discriminate or retaliate against you for requesting or taking Paid Family Leave. They must reinstate you to the same or a comparable position when you return from Paid Family Leave.

If you request or take Paid Family Leave and your employer:

  • does not return you to your same or a comparable job,
  • terminates your employment,
  • reduces your pay or benefits, or
  • disciplines you in any way.

Please follow the steps outlined in the process below.

  1. Request for Reinstatement:
    First, you should request that your employer reinstate you to your same job, or a comparable one.

    To request reinstatement:
    1. Complete the Paid Family Leave Discrimination/Retaliation Step 1: Request for Reinstatement Form (PFL-DC-119).
    2. File the completed form with your employer.
    3. Send a copy to Paid Family Leave, PO Box 9030, Endicott, NY 13761-9030.

      Your employer has 30 calendar days to respond to the request.
       
  2. Discrimination/Retaliation Complaint:
    If your employer does not comply with your Request For Reinstatement within 30 calendar days, you have the right to a hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Board.

    To request a hearing, file a discrimination/retaliation complaint:
    1. Complete the Paid Family Leave Discrimination/Retaliation Step 2: Complaint Form (PFL-DC-120).
    2. File the completed form with your employer.
    3. Send a copy to Paid Family Leave, PO Box 9030, Endicott, NY 13761-9030.

The Board will assemble your case and reach out to you to schedule a hearing within 45 calendar days.

NOTE: To file a discrimination complaint, you must have first requested reinstatement as described in the first step above. A request for a hearing will not be processed unless a Paid Family Leave Discrimination/Retaliation Step 1: Request for Reinstatement Form (PFL-DC-119) is received.

An administrative law judge may order an employer to reinstate you, pay any lost wages, pay attorney’s fees, and pay up to $500 in penalties.

Examples of Additional Anti-Discrimination Laws Beyond Paid Family Leave

There are other state and federal laws that protect employees from discrimination. If you think that you have experienced discrimination based on a ground protected under one of the following laws, then you may be able to file a discrimination claim with the State Division of Human Rights, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or your local human rights commission:

  • The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants based on certain protected grounds, including age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, pregnancy-related conditions, gender identity, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victim status. The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) also protects employees with disabilities or who are pregnant or who have recently given birth from discrimination by requiring employers to make “reasonable accommodations” to accommodate disabilities as well as pregnancy- and childbirth-related conditions.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. 
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities and makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with disabilities.
  • You should also check your local laws for additional anti-discrimination protections.  For example, the New York City Human Rights Law protects employees in New York City from discrimination based on similar protected classes.

Wage Deduction Complaints

If you believe there is an error with your current payroll deduction, raise the issue with your employer. If your employer fails to address the issue, you can file a complaint online or call the Paid Family Leave Helpline at 844-337-6303.

Contact Us

For more information, call the Paid Family Leave Helpline (844) 337-6303, Monday-Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm ET.

Webinars

The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has been hosting a series of webinars on Paid Family Leave, which have been recorded for your convenience:

Upcoming Webinars

Watch this space for additional sessions to be scheduled soon.