Although the New York State Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (“PFL”) has been effective for nearly a year, it continues to evolve. As the new year approaches, there are a number of updates to the PFL that employers should be aware of. The Workers’ Compensation Board (“Board”) also recently published additional guidance relating to the PFL, which provides additional clarity regarding these updates. Below is a summary of these updates:
The Board’s recent guidance clarifies a number of points relating to the administration of PFL benefits. For instance, the Board’s guidance explains what happens when an employee starts using intermittent PFL benefits in 2018, but such use extends into 2019. The Board’s position in this regard is that an employee would need to wait three months between intermittent days of PFL before the employee can take advantage of the additional two weeks of PFL in 2019. By way of example, if an employee uses PFL benefits during the last eight weeks of 2018 to bond with a child, the employee would need to wait at least three months in 2019 in order to take two more weeks of leave to bond with that same child.
The Board’s recent guidance also confirms that payroll deductions are not capped on a weekly basis, but are capped on an annual basis. Thus, if an employee earns $1,357.11 or more, the amount of the employee’s payroll deduction in 2019 will be “0.153% x their gross wages each pay period until they reach the maximum of $107.97.” At that point, the employer should stop taking payroll deductions from this employee until 2020.
Another potential update to keep in mind is that employees may soon become eligible to use PFL benefits for bereavement leave. In June 2018, the New York State Assembly passed a bill which would permit employees to use PFL benefits to take leave following the death of a family member. The bill, which is awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature, would permit employees to use PFL benefits for the purpose of grieving a deceased “family member” as that term is defined in the PFL. If Governor Cuomo signs this bill into law, it could significantly broaden the scope of reasons an employee may seek PFL benefits. Based on the current version of the bill, however, this law would not go into effect until January 1, 2020.
In advance of the new year, employers should update their payroll practices to ensure the increased payroll deductions will begin on January 1, 2019. This is particularly important for employers that are fully insured for PFL benefits, as the payroll deductions should match the insurance premiums, to avoid under- or over-collecting PFL contributions.
Employers should also consider notifying their employees of the increase in the deduction amount to avoid any confusion regarding the amount of the payroll deductions. The Board published a form that employers may use for this purpose, which would need to be customized to each employee. Employers should also start using the new Statement of Rights form, as previously mentioned.
The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact your regular Nixon Peabody LLP representative. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.
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