For the second year of New York State’s landmark Paid Family Leave benefit, there are exciting updates to share! In 2019, as we continue our four-year phase in, Paid Family Leave benefits have been significantly enhanced to further improve the lives of working New Yorkers and their families.
More Time with Loved Ones
As of January 1, 2019, the number of weeks eligible employees can take to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service increased to 10 weeks.
The number of weeks employees can take will continue to rise through 2021, at which time employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected, paid time off to be there for family when they are most needed.
Additionally, Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation to expand the Paid Family Leave Law’s definition of “serious health condition” to explicitly include preparation for and recovery from surgery related to organ or tissue donation, ensuring those who donate can be cared for by their eligible family members under New York Paid Family Leave. That law takes effect on February 3, 2019.
More Financial Security
The Paid Family Leave wage replacement benefit has also increased. In 2019, employees taking Paid Family Leave will receive 55% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 55% of the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,357.11. The maximum weekly benefit for 2019 is $746.41.
|Paid Family Leave Benefits Examples for 2019|
|Worker’s Average Weekly Wage||Weekly PFL Benefit (2019)*|
*The weekly PFL benefit is capped at 55% of the New York State average weekly wage, which is $746.41.
|Benefits Increase Through 2021|
|Year||Weeks of Leave||Benefit|
|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|
Same Strong Protections
Employees can take leave to care for their family members knowing New York has their backs. With some of the nation’s strongest worker protections, New York Paid Family Leave guarantees that:
- Employees have job protection, ensuring they can return to the same job (or a comparable one) when they return from Paid Family Leave.
- Employees can keep their health insurance while on leave on the same terms they had while working.
- Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for requesting or taking Paid Family Leave.
And as New York continues to look out for some of our most vulnerable workers, citizenship is never a factor in eligibility for New York Paid Family Leave.
Fully-Funded by Employees
New York Paid Family Leave is insurance that may be funded by employees through payroll deductions. In 2019, the contribution is 0.153% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period. The maximum annual contribution is $107.97.
Employees earning less than the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,357.11 will contribute less than the annual cap of $107.97, consistent with their actual wages.
- Employees earning $519 a week ($27,000 a year) will pay about 79 cents per week: $519 x 0.153%.
- Employees earning $1,000 a week ($52,000 a year) will pay $1.53 per week: $1,000 x 0.153%.
- Employees earning the SAWW of $1,357.11 ($70,569.72 a year) or more will pay 0.153% x their gross wages each pay period until they reach the maximum of $107.97.
For more information or assistance on Paid Family Leave for 2019, check out the frequently asked questions and employer resources, below. You can also call the Paid Family Leave Helpline at 844.337.6303 from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many weeks of Paid Family Leave are available to employees in 2019?
Eligible employees can take up to 10 weeks of Paid Family Leave in 2019.
How much will employees get paid when taking Paid Family Leave in 2019?
Employees taking Paid Family Leave will get 55% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 55% of the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,357.11.
What is the maximum weekly benefit in 2019?
The maximum weekly benefit for 2019 is $746.41.
If I start my continuous leave in 2018, and it extends into 2019, am I eligible for the benefits at the 2019 rate and an extra two weeks?
You get the benefit rate and number of weeks in effect on the first day of your leave.
If I start my intermittent leave in 2018, and it extends into 2019, am I eligible for the benefits at the 2019 rate and an extra two weeks?
You get the benefit rate and number of weeks in effect on the first day of a period of leave. When more than three months passes between days of Paid Family Leave, your next day or period of Paid Family Leave is considered a new claim under the law. This means you will need to file a new Request for Paid Family Leave and that you may be eligible for the increased benefits available should this day or period of Paid Family Leave begin in 2019.
I am having a new baby in the fall of 2018. Can I wait until 2019 to take Paid Family Leave to get the enhanced benefits?
Yes, you can take Paid Family Leave for bonding with a new child at any time within the first 12 months of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement, provided that you remain an eligible, covered employee.
I used all eight weeks of PFL in 2018. Can I take more PFL in 2019 if I experience another qualifying event?
If you experience another qualifying event in 2019, you may be eligible for up to two weeks of additional leave. The maximum amount of leave in 2019 is 10 weeks in a 52 week period. If you took eight weeks of PFL in the last 52 weeks, and have another qualifying event in 2019, you may be limited to two weeks at the new rate, since it is a rolling calendar. When it has been 52 weeks from your 2018 leave dates, you will accrue a new week of available PFL up to another eight weeks.
What is the weekly employee contribution rate for 2019?
If you are paid weekly, the 2019 payroll contribution is 0.153% of your gross weekly wages and is capped at an annual maximum of $107.97. If your gross weekly wages are less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1,357.11 per week), you will have an annual contribution amount less than the annual cap of $107.97, consistent with your actual wages.
For example, in 2019, if you earn $27,000 a year ($519 a week), you will pay about 79 cents per week.
What is the maximum amount employees will pay for Paid Family Leave in 2019?
The maximum employee contribution for 2019 is $107.97.
Why did the contribution amount change?
Each year, the Department of Financial Services sets the employee contribution rate to match the cost of coverage. With 2019 Paid Family Leave benefits increasing to 10 weeks off at 55% of pay, the cost of coverage rose slightly, which the new contribution rate reflects.
When can employers start taking deductions at the new rate?
Employers may start taking deductions at the 2019 rate on January 1, 2019.
On March 31, 2018, New York updated the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW). When does this SAWW take effect for Paid Family Leave deduction and benefit caps?
The new SAWW only applies to the 2019 benefit and will not affect Paid Family Leave deductions or benefits until January 1, 2019, if leave was begun on or after that date. The new SAWW does not have any impact on Paid Family Leave benefits in 2018.
What is the Statewide Average Weekly Wage that will be used for Paid Family Leave in 2019?
The Statewide Average Weekly Wage for Paid Family Leave in 2019 is $1,357.11.
Contact Merriam Insurance today to learn more.