NYS Paid Family Leave: What Your Church Needs to Know

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a phased-in system of paid family leave (PFL) that became effective January 1, 2018 for New York employers. Administered by the State of New York Workers’ Compensation Division, NYS Paid Family Leave is an automatic rider to your statutory disability policy. Paid Family Leave eligibility and internal administration will be, for the most part, the same for all New York employers.

It is important to note that there are some important differences for churches. How does it affect your pastor? How does it affect the rest of the church’s employees and volunteers?

The first notable difference for churches is in the eligibility requirements of its clergy and employees:

  • The ability to not participate in PFL roughly coordinates with the ability to waive the Workers’ Compensation benefit. Thus, a pastor who waives Workers’ Compensation coverage may also choose to waive PFL participation.
  • Clergy members who do want to participate in PFL must be appointed 25% or more to the specific church providing the PFL benefit.
  • Employees must work 20 hours per week or more and must have worked 26 consecutive weeks prior to the first day of leave.
  • Employees who work less than 20 hours per week are eligible after they have worked 175 workdays, no matter the number of hours in those work days.
  • The church must approve a request for both spouses to take advantage of the PFL benefit at the same time. If you are faced with this situation, contact us for additional information.

The second difference of note is in the church’s administration of the program:

  • Churches will be automatically getting coverage for PFL from their DBL provider (NYS mandated Short Term Disability coverage). Churches must comply with posting requirements.
  • Churches need to approve their own policies around payment and tracking of paid family leave for their employees.
  • You will need to be able to report the number of participating employees making more than $67,907.84 annually. You also need to report the sum of all wages for employees making below $67,907.84.
  • Churches cannot mandate that Paid Time Off (PTO) be used first or in conjunction with PFL pay.
  • Churches may allow employees to use pro‐rated PTO in combination with PFL pay.

Contact one of the Benefits experts at Merriam Insurance today to discuss your Disability policy and Paid Family Leave rider. You will save time and get advice to help you keep your business compliant with these new laws.

Joshua D. Crowder, AAI-M