Now that 2018 is underway, working Long Islanders have access to the state’s new Paid Family Leave law granting eligible employees time off to care for a newborn, chronically ill spouse or immediate family member.
Understanding the new law can be complicated, but here are some basics about how the legislation works.
Under the New York Paid Family Leave Benefit Law, known as PFLBL, eligible employees are considered those who regularly work at least 20 hours per week and have worked at least 26 consecutive weeks, says Babylon-based employment lawyer Ralph A. Somma. Part-timers — those who work less than 20 hours per week — are eligible after 175 days, which do not have to be consecutive, he adds.
“All New Yorkers can benefit from these rules,” says Jonathan Tand, the founding member of Tand & Associates, a law firm based in Garden City. But, he points out, as salaries go up, the amount people can recover while out tends to max out.
Both Tand and Somma explain that the maximum benefit the law covers is as much as 50 percent of a worker’s average weekly wage, but the amount one can gain is limited by the state’s average weekly wage. The Department of Labor currently lists this as $1,305.92. In other words, the most one can receive weekly through the law is $652.96, so anyone making $68,000 or more a year would receive the same capped amount.
If you come down with a serious illness, the law is not covering that. “That’s not the aim of this law,” Tand says. “This is if your family member was hospitalized and you needed to take care of them.”
An employee’s own illness or injury is covered by either New York workers’ compensation benefits or short-term disability benefits, explains Somma.
Not just physical injuries
The new legislation is more than when someone you care for suffers a physical issue. “A serious health condition can be a chronic or temporary physical or mental condition that incapacitates the family member and requires continuing medical care in a hospital, hospice, residential health care facility or continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider,” says Somma. He adds that minor injuries such as a cold, flu, or upset stomach are not covered.
Tand says that while he sees psychological injuries being covered, “as with any law . . . there will be boundaries tested and the courts will provide additional clarity as time goes on.”
If you have questions about the law, Somma suggests visiting ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-paid-family-leave.