NYS Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides eligible workers with wage replacement during time away from work for eligible reasons.
To be eligible for PFL, employees scheduled to work 20 hours or more per week must work for 26 consecutive weeks. If an employee’s regular employment schedule is less than 20 hours per week, the employee must work for 175 days. Part-time employees will have their PFL time prorated (e.g., the PFL eligibility for an employee who works 3 days per week would be 3 days per week for 8 weeks).
Reasons for Paid Family Leave eligibility include:
Eligible family members include: Spouse/domestic partner, child (no age limit), parent and parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, and in loco parentis relationships.
Family members who are called to active military duty, family members include: Spouse/domestic partner, child or parents.
An employee who does not meet the eligibility requirements for PFL may waive PFL. If, however, the employee becomes eligible in the future, the employee will be required to pay the deductions back to their hire date. To waive the PFL benefit, obtain and complete the waiver, Employee Opt-Out of Paid Family Leave Benefits from RFCUNY’s Leaves Administration team.
The New York PFL law mandates that the cost of PFL benefits must be paid by employees through payroll deduction. RFCUNY will deduct a very small percentage of an employee’s average weekly wages to fund PFL benefits. The deduction rate (established by New York State and the same for everyone) is 0.153% of each employee’s weekly wage. For example, an employee’s weekly wage amounts to $1,000.00, the maximum payroll deduction for PFL would amount to $1.53 for that week.
For calendar year 2019, the coverage period is ten weeks at 55% of an employee’s average weekly wage (based on 8 weeks of earnings prior to the leave) capped at 55% of the state’s average weekly wage as defined annual by New York State. This benefit is anticipated to rise over the next three years to the maximum benefit of 12 weeks of leave at 67% of an employee’s average weekly wage (with the cap at 67% of the state average weekly wage).
The amount of coverage an employee receives may not be based on their specific salary. Coverage is capped at the amount an average New York worker would receive. In 2019, benefits are capped at 55% of New York State’s Average Weekly Wage (currently $1,357.11). This means that the maximum payouts will be $746.41 per week. The Average Weekly Wage is set every year and over the next four years, the cap will increase to 67% of the Average Weekly Wage.
An employee is responsible for notifying their supervisor and RFCUNY of their intention to apply for PFL benefits. For a foreseeable request, the employee must provide RFCUNY with 30 days advanced notice. If the event is unforeseeable, the employee must notify RFCUNY as soon as practical.
Applying for PFL requires completing the necessary forms, gathering supporting documentation (where applicable), and mailing the documents to RFCUNY. Upon submission, forms are reviewed and sent to the insurance carrier (the Hartford) for processing (usually within 18 days). The Hartford sends the employee a letter outlining the approval and associated time frames for payments. If an employee’s claim is denied, the Hartford will provide information on how to appeal the decision. If an employee’s claim is approved, the payment for any PFL day taken by the employee will be from the Hartford (not RFCUNY). Payments are made weekly in the form of a check or direct deposit.
PFL is a job protected benefit. Employees on PFL are entitled to restoration to “the position of employment held by the employee when the leave commenced or to be restored to a comparable positon with comparable employment benefits.” Employees are also protected from retaliation if they exercise their rights to PFL.
Employees on PFL are entitled to continue health benefits on the same basis as if actively working.
Employees have the option to either use or not use their accruals, but are not required to use any of their accrued annual, sick leave, or unscheduled holiday while on PFL. Employees who elect to use accrued annual, sick, or unscheduled holiday while on PFL will have their monthly deduction taken from their paycheck. Employees who do not use their accrued annual, sick, or unscheduled holiday will cause their monthly premiums go into arrears. Upon return from PFL, the amount in arrears will be deducted from the employee’s first paycheck. If an employee has not used 40 hours of accrued sick leave to care for a family as provided for under Time and Leave Policy- 506, the employee has the option to use 40 hours of accrued sick leave for a PFL qualifying event.
An employee may elect to use only PFL and receive 55% of benefits or use their leave accruals to supplement or “top up” (using a percentage of accruals while on PFL) to full salary. This means the employee would receive 55% from PFL (of the NYS average weekly wage) and 45% by using their accrued leave. For example, Mary is a Full-time employee who has filed for PFL and elected to use her accruals to top up her PFL benefits. In order for Mary to receive 100% salary, a PFL benefit of 55% would be applied and her timesheet would need to be created with 3.15 hours for each day of PFL. RFCUNY’s Leave Administration team can assist in creating timesheets for staff who elect to “top up” their PFL benefit.
Disability & Leaves of Absence Forms