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Update to Paid Family Leave: Qualifying Reasons Expanded

On June 20, 2018, the New York legislature added a new qualifying reason for eligible employees to take advantage of the Paid Family Leave Act.

At the law’s inception, the qualifying reasons were limited to 1) the birth, adoption or new fostering of a child; 2) to provide care for a family member with a serious health condition; or  3) to attend to an exigency arising from a family member’s military service.

The law is being phased in over a period of four years, with full benefits to be available by 2020.

The new amendment to the law provides that by full inception on January 1, 2020, a fourth qualifying act will be available: leave taken for the purposes of bereavement due to the death of a family member.   This will be able to be used in one of two ways. First, for employees to take leave due to the death of a family member. Second, for employees already on leave to care for a sick family member, the leave will be extended if and when that family member dies.  For these qualifying reasons, “family member” will still be defined as follows: spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, child, stepchild, parent-in-law, stepparent, and/or anyone for whom the employee has legal custody.

New York Paid Family Leave…Finally!

Until recently, individuals in the workforce in the State of New York had to choose between caring for family members – such as new babies and elderly parents – and not getting paid.  But not anymore.  In April 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that makes New York the fourth state in the country to guarantee paid family leave to bond with a new child or care for an ill family member.

The New York Paid Family Leave Law (the “Law”) becomes effective in 2018 and initially provides eight weeks at 50% of the employee’s weekly wage.  This will increase to twelve weeks and 67% of the employee’s weekly wage by 2021.  This Law guarantees that you will receive a pay check and still have a job upon your return.  The leave can be used to care for a family member with a serious illness; bond with a new baby (including through foster or adoptive placement); or address family needs due to the active military duty of a close family member.  Family member is defined broadly.

Both full-time and part-time workers will be eligible for leave under the Law once they have been employed for more than six months. All employers are required to comply with this Law upon written notice and medical certification from an employee.

Paid leave under the Law will be funded by small payroll deductions from all employees.  The actual amount to be deducted will be determined in June of this year, but the currently estimate for cost to employees is approximately $1 per week.

This new law is the most comprehensive of its type in the nation.  Below is a chart demonstrating how the law will be phased in from 2018 through 2021.


Effective date

Number of weeks of leave permitted in a 52 week calendar periodAmount of paid leave
January 1, 20188 weeks50% of the employee’s weekly pay, capped at 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.
January 1, 201910 weeks55% of the employee’s weekly pay, capped at 55% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.
January 1, 202010 weeks60% of the employee’s weekly pay, capped at 60% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.
January 1, 202112 weeks67% of the employee’s weekly pay, capped at 67% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.

Kelly A. Pressler is an associate and practices General Civil Litigation and Municipal Litigation.  She can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9565 and by email.

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