Although there are common elements to the many PFL regulations, there are also differences in the way each state designs its plan and coordinates it with other leave types. Here’s what you need to know about PFL and state disability in New York.
Paid Family Leave
The New York PFL program provides eligible employees paid time off to:
- bond with a new child within 12 months of birth or placement via adoption or foster care
- care for a seriously ill family member
- assist when a parent, domestic partner, spouse or child is called into active military service
A family member includes children, spouses, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren and domestic partners. The employee’s job is protected during a covered leave.
Benefits began on January 1, 2018, initially providing 50% of the employee’s wages for a maximum duration of eight weeks. The benefit amount will gradually increase, as shown below:
|EFFECTIVE DATE||BENEFIT||MAXIMUM BENEFIT AMOUNT||MAXIMUM WEEKS|
|1-1-18||50% of employee's weekly wages||50% state average weekly wage
|8 weeks within 52 weeks|
|1-1-19||55% of employee's weekly wages||55% state average weekly wage
|10 weeks within 52 weeks|
|1-1-20||60% of employee's weekly wages||60% state average weekly wage
(Maximum dependent upon future state average weekly wage)
|10 weeks within 52 weeks|
|1-1-21||67% of employee's weekly wages||67% state average weekly wage
(Maximum dependent upon future state average weekly wage)
|12 weeks within 52 weeks|
- Private sector employees: New York Paid Family Leave applies to all private sector employers with employees who work in New York, subject to the New York Disability Benefits Law (DBL), regardless of company size or location.
Full-time employees are covered after 26 consecutive weeks of employment, and part-time employees are covered after working 175 days. Full-time status is defined as working 20 or more hours per week; below that amount would be considered part-time. Previous time with a different employer does not count toward eligibility.
- Public sector employees: New York State considers public employees as anyone who works for the state of New York, any political subdivision of the state, a public authority or any other governmental agency or instrumentality thereof. Public employers are not required to provide PFL benefits to their employees under New York’s regulations. Public employers that wish to provide disability benefits and PFL coverage must email the Workers’ Compensation Board at
stating that you plan to provide Paid Family Leave to employees. Public employers who do not currently provide disability benefits must complete the Application for Voluntary Coverage.
- For couples under married status, each employee is entitled to the benefit independently of one another; they do not have to share the Paid Family Leave entitlement. However, if both employees work for the same employer, the employer has discretion to limit both employees from being on leave for the same reason at the same time (i.e. both employees taking PFL to bond with their new child at the same time).
Employees not expected to work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week for at least 26 consecutive weeks, or those not expected to work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week for 175 work days (not necessarily consecutive days) within a 52-week period have the option to file a waiver through their employer. If a waiver is signed, no payroll deductions will be withheld from the employee’s paycheck, and the employer must keep a copy of the fully executed waiver on file for as long as the employee remains employed by them. If the employee becomes eligible for coverage, the waiver is revoked and premium payments must begin as soon as the employee is notified. This includes premium amounts back to the date of hire.
Intermittent leave is permitted in one-day increments (based on employee’s normal work schedule) under the Paid Family Leave regulations. These are full-day increments during which the employee did not work at all. Any day the employee worked and received pay is not considered a day of leave.
Paid Family Leave benefits are intended to be funded entirely through employee payroll deductions. However, employers may contribute to or fully cover the PFL cost on employees’ behalf. The state of New York sets the community rate for PFL on an annual basis. All carriers, as well as the State Insurance Fund, are required to charge the same rate for their fully insured PFL coverage. Additionally, the New York State Department of Labor issues the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) on an annual basis, which directly impacts the maximum annual payroll deduction. The following 2019 contribution rate and SAWW determine the maximum annual contribution in effect for 2019:
- 2019 contribution rate: 0.153% of an employee’s weekly wage*
- 2019 SAWW: $1,357.11 (Updated yearly, by March 31.)
- 2019 annualized SAWW: $70,569.72 ($1,357.11 × 52 weeks)
- Annual premium cap: $107.97 ($70,569.72 × 0.153%)
*Employees earning more than the SAWW will contribute 0.153% × their gross wages each pay period until they reach the maximum of $107.97.
Premiums are deducted from employees’ after-tax wages. Employers should report employee contributions on Form W-2 using Box 14 – State disability insurance taxes withheld.
Benefits are issued as non-wage income. This means that benefits are not treated as wage replacement and therefore are not subject to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax. Income taxes are not automatically withheld from benefits; however, employees can request voluntary tax withholdings. Benefits are reported on a 1099-MISC issued directly to claimants at year-end.
State disability coverage: Private sector employers are required to offer both DBL coverage and PFL. In most cases, insurance carriers are required to offer one plan that administers both coverages.
Employees may not use DBL and PFL concurrently. However, they can be taken one after the other. For example, employees who deliver a baby may qualify for DBL coverage for the six- to eight-week recovery period and also be eligible for PFL benefits following the birth to bond with the baby. While the two benefits cannot be taken concurrently, the employee has the option to forgo the disability benefit entirely, opting to just take PFL for bonding, or to use the disability benefit and then use the PFL benefit.
The state DBL benefit provides 26 weeks in a 52-week period of coverage. The PFL benefit duration depends on the year in which the claim began (for example ten weeks of benefit in 2019). These two benefits share a maximum benefit duration of 26 weeks within a 52-week period.
FMLA: PFL is not part of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); it is a separate entitlement with different eligibility rules and employer requirements. If an employee’s leave is also eligible for federal FMLA, it will run concurrently with NY PFL.
Company leave programs: An organization’s family leave and maternity/paternity benefits do not replace the mandated PFL benefit in New York. An employer may be eligible to receive reimbursement for periods an employee is receiving benefits from a company paid leave program and is also eligible for PFL benefits.
Both employers and their employees should know:
- When married couples share an employer, each employee is entitled to the benefit independently of one another; they do not have to share the Paid Family Leave entitlement.
- New York Paid Family Leave benefits are intended to be funded entirely through employee payroll deduction. Employees should be kept aware of any yearly rate increases.
- Benefit amounts and available time will increase over the next several years, but are subject to change by the state of New York.
- The employer cannot require the employee to exhaust their paid time off before filing a PFL claim.
- The employee should provide 30 days’ notice for a foreseeable leave. If this is not possible, the notice should be provided as soon as is practical.
- If the employer permits it, employees may use their paid time off, sick and/or vacation time to supplement their PFL and receive up to their full salary.
- The employer may seek reimbursement of PFL benefits if salary continuance is provided to the employee. The employer must notify the carrier before the claim is paid to receive reimbursement.
- The employer cannot influence the employee’s PFL schedule.
- Employees have job protection under PFL.
- Employees do not need to explicitly mention paid family leave in order to assert their rights. The employer should seek further information from the employee to determine whether the employee is seeking family leave.
- Employers are required to provide written statement of rights to the employee within five business days after receiving notice of the employee's absence of seven consecutive days is due to a family leave.
Below are links to key forms and notices regarding NY PFL plan administration. All questions about state-issued forms should go to the state’s PFL Hotline (844)-337-6303.
Employee Paid Family Leave Opt-Out and Waiver of Benefits.
Employers should provide this form to employees that qualify for a waiver of coverage. Employers are expected to maintain a copy of an employee’s form for the duration of the employee’s employment.
Employer’s Application for Voluntary Coverage (No Employee Contribution) (PFL-135)
Public employers electing to offer PFL coverage at no cost to their New York employees must complete and return this form to the Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Employer’s Application for Voluntary Coverage (Employee Contribution Required) (PFL-136)
Public employers electing to offer PFL coverage and requiring their New York employees to bear the cost must complete and return this form to the Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board.
The DBL program pays weekly cash benefits to an employee working in New York who cannot work due to an off-the-job injury or illness. Unemployed workers can also receive DBL benefits to replace unemployment insurance benefits lost because of illness or injury.
NY DBL began in 1949, when the Workers' Compensation Law was amended to include Article IX, which became known as the DBL.
Employees who work four consecutive weeks of covered employment are eligible for benefits. An employee that works less than the employer’s normal work week is also eligible for benefits on the 25th day of employment. Employees generally retain their eligibility to request benefits for four weeks after their employment has terminated.
An organization that wants to provide their own plan instead of the state plan must submit their plan to the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) for review and approval. Board staff will suggest modifications to make these plans “as least as favorable” as the DBL benefits. Any plan accepted by the Chair of the Board as meeting the requirements of the NY DBL must be insured through a carrier licensed by New York State to write statutory disability benefits insurance policies, or by an employer who is authorized by the Board to self-insure for disability benefits. Carriers commonly handle the application process with the WCB on an employer’s behalf.
Employers can, but are not required to, have their employees contribute to the cost of providing disability benefits. An employee's contribution is computed at the rate of one-half of one percent of his/her wages, but no more than 60 cents per week.
If an employee has more than one job at the same time, with combined wages of more than $120 per week, they may request each employer to adjust their contributions in proportion to the earnings of each employment. The combined contributions may not exceed 60 cents per week.
The program provides up to 26 weeks of leave within a 52-week period for disability benefits.
The weekly benefit rate for disability benefits is equal to 50% of an employee’s average weekly wage. Eligible employees will receive at least $20.00 per week and no more than $170.00 per week.
The same proportion of premium funded by the employer is used to determine the portion of the disability benefits that are subject to federal income taxes and the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). FICA taxes will be for six calendar months following the last calendar month in which the employee worked.
When an employee’s premium payments for disability benefits are paid with after-tax dollars, their contributions are not subject to federal income or FICA taxes. However, if the employee pays all or a portion of the premium on a pre-tax basis, then the entire benefit is subject to federal income tax and FICA.
NY DBL does not provide job protection, but employees may be protected under other laws, such as FMLA.