Paid Family Leave Is Coming to New York

James Stovall

If you haven’t heard yet, New York State has now enacted the first-of-its-kind paid family leave policy.

The New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law will allow eligible employees to take paid family leave to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition or to help relieve family pressures if someone is called into active military service. This law will be fully phased-in over the next few years, starting in January 2018. Here’s everything you need to know about it:

What is it?

Paid family leave provides income while an employee is away from work for various family-related reasons. This is a major development, as New York will become one of the most comprehensive paid family leave laws in the country. Even in 2017, paid family leave laws are not what you might expect them to be.  So for New York to be taking the necessary steps to provide families with paid family leave is a big deal.  In short, New York’s paid family leave law will allow employees to feel more comfortable about being able to care for themselves and their loved ones without fear of retribution at work and losing income while on leave.

Under New York’s paid leave law, leaves are fully funded by employees via payroll deductions. Importantly, there is no employer contribution.  An employee’s contribution is capped at 0.126% of the statewide average weekly wage, which is calculated annually on March 31 based on the previous calendar year.  The statewide average weekly wage is currently $1,305.92.

Employers can begin employee-paid paid family leave deductions this summer, but most will likely begin deductions in January 2018, which is the mandatory start-date for deductions.

Who’s eligible?

In New York, paid family leave will be available to all employees.  Employees working 20 or more hours are eligible after 26 weeks of employment. Employees working less than 20 hours per week become eligible after working 175 days.

What qualifies?

An employee can take paid family leave only if the employee needs to:

  • Care for a newborn during the first 12 weeks of childbirth or after placement for adoption or foster care
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Prepare for a family member’s call to active military deployment.

What’s the timeline?

The New York paid family leave program will mature over a few years, beginning in January 2018.  The maximum number of paid family leave weeks, and the amount of pay an employee is eligible to receive will increase over time as follows:

Important Dates Changes to Paid Family Leave Benefit
January 2018 Tax deductions from employee paychecks will begin for all employees
January 1, 2018 8 weeks of paid family leave at 50% of statewide average weekly wage
January 1, 2019 10 weeks at 55% of statewide average weekly wage
January 1, 2020 10 weeks at 60% of statewide average weekly wage
January 1, 2021 12 weeks at 67% of statewide average weekly wage


Want to learn more about the New York Paid Family Leave Benefit Law and how it applies to your school?  Schedule a call with Little Bird today and we’ll get you up to speed!