New York has introduced a new state-wide paid family leave benefit for all New York-based employees who work in the private sector.
The new family leave benefit, which is effective from 1 January 2018, will be phased in over a four-year period. It has been designed to enable new parents to bond with birth, adopted or fostered children, to allow employees to care for seriously ill close relatives, and to assist staff when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.
Eligible employees who wish to take family leave in 2018 will be able to take up to eight weeks of leave at 50% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of $652.96 (£482.02). The cap is set at 50% of the New York state average weekly wage. An employee’s average weekly wage will be calculated as the average of their last eight weeks of pay prior to starting the paid family leave.
In 2019, eligible employees will be able to take up to 10 weeks of paid family leave at 55% of their average weekly wage, capped at 55% of the New York state average weekly wage. This will increase to 10 weeks of paid leave at 60% of employees’ average weekly wage, capped at 60% of the New York state average weekly wage in 2020, and in 2021, eligible employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave at 67% of their average weekly wage, capped at 67% of the New York state average weekly wage.
The New York state average weekly wage, which is updated annually, is currently set at $1,305.92 (£964.04).
Full-time employees working in the private sector for 20 or more hours a week will be eligible to take the new family leave benefit after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Part-time employees working less than 20 hours a week in the private sector will be eligible for the leave benefit after completing 175 non-consecutive days of service.
The family leave can be taken either all at once, or in full-day increments, and the maximum amount of time-off may be taken in any given 52-week period. This period will start after the first day of family leave is taken.
Parents who wish to take paid family leave to bond with their child can only do so after birth, during the first 12 months following the labour, adoption or foster placement.
Employees will pay for the new family leave benefit via a weekly payroll deduction, which will be set as a percentage of employees’ weekly wage, up to a decided cap. For 2018, the payroll contribution is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, capped at 0.126% of the state average weekly wage.
Employees can opt out of paid family leave if they do not expect to work for their employer for the minimum amount of time required to be eligible for the leave. They are also able to continue their health insurance while taking leave and are guaranteed the same or a comparable job when returning from family leave.
Governor Andrew M Cuomo, governor of New York, said: “New York has made major strides in the fight for economic equality, social justice and [employees’] rights and with the rollout of this historic minimum wage increase and the strongest paid family leave [programme] in the country, we continue to protect the wallets of middle class New Yorkers.
“New York believes in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and no family member should have to choose between caring for a loved one or losing their job; this victory will help restore fairness and equality to working families across New York.”