Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
If you’re a new mother in New York State, you can have some of your wages or salary “replaced” by the New York Paid Family Leave program (NYPFL). You don’t have to use the benefits just for having a baby, you can use it to provide care for sick relatives or to support your family members when they are deployed overseas. You may be eligible for NYPFL starting in 2020 if you or your minor dependent are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order or isolation due to COVID-19.
New York State Paid Family Leave
How many weeks of paid maternity leave can I get?
It depends on your employer if you have paid maternity leave as part of their benefits. However, you’re still eligible if your employer doesn’t offer paid maternity leave. The law was fully phased into effect on January 1, 2021. Most new parents working for private employers will now be eligible for 12 weeks of partially-paid bonding leave.
NYPFL is an insurance policy benefit that functions similarly to New York’s short term disability benefits. Employees who have a qualifying event, such as the birth or adoption of a child, can apply through their NYPFL insurance carrier for leave. If approved, they will receive benefits from the insurance carrier.
Your employer might offer paid leave. However, your employer might not allow you to take NYPFL with you. For more information on how your employer’s leave plan aligns with NYPFL, you should speak to them.
How much will I be paid?
This question is dependent on your workplace and the details of your employer’s policy. Congratulations if your employer offers a maternity-pay package that is more generous than NYPFL, you may also take NYPFL concurrently with your employer’s offer. However, your employer might pay you directly rather than the NYPFL insurance company. If this is the case, you should be aware that state law provides other benefits, such as job protection rights and wage-replacement pay.
If you are eligible for NYPFL, you will still be able to receive income from your employer even if they don’t offer paid time off. The wage benefit will now be 67% of your salary as of 2021.
This amount is limited to 67% of the state’s average weekly wages (SAWW), currently $1,450.17. Maximum payouts for this year’s leave are $971.61 per week. Every year, the SAWW is established. The amount you receive if you earn less than that of the SAWW will be calculated based upon your salary.
When can my leave start? When I’m still pregnant?
You can’t take the benefit while you are pregnant, even if you need to leave due to medical reasons besides the birth of your child. NYPFL benefits only kick in once your child is born. NYPFL may cover you if you want to take a leave for a child placed with you in foster care or adopted.
You have options if you are thinking about taking maternity leave later in life, but not right after the birth of your child. You can take paid leave to bond with your child anytime during the first twelve months after their birth, adoption, or foster placement.
Do I need to take my leave all at once?
No, you and your partner may decide to split the time; you might take four weeks and your partner four weeks. Then you will switch sides. NYPFL gives you the freedom to choose when and how you want to bond.
Can I use only part of the benefit or is it all or nothing?
You can get a portion of the benefit if you need to return to work sooner than the full leave ends. Note that even if your leave is exhausted, you can still apply for the rest of your time if it falls within the first 12 month of your child’s life, your placement with you as foster or adoption parent, or any other qualifying events under the law, such as a family member who is very ill or close to you. You can also take this leave in one-day increments.
NYPFL is an insurance product similar to New York State Disability Insurance. When you apply for leave through the insurance company of your employer, it is important to indicate when you will be taking NYPFL. If you request eight weeks of leave, but change your mind later and want to only take four weeks, your employer and your PFL insurance carrier will need to be notified immediately. Don’t forget to give your employer at most 30 days notice if you are able to take the leave. If not, you should give as much notice as possible.
Can my spouse or partner get parental leave too?
Yes, the law applies to both men and women for straight and mixed-sex families. Many families choose to let one parent go on leave first and then have the second parent begin leave after the first parent returns to work. Parents working for the same employer can take leave together, unless the employer prohibits it. In which case they may do it one after another.
What if I adopt, foster or use a surrogate?
Yes, NYPFL is still available to you regardless of whether you are adding to your family via adoption, surrogacy, foster parenting, or pregnancy. All you need is the appropriate documentation like a birth certificate or adoption papers.
Does it cover anything besides welcoming a new child—like caring for a sick relative or if I fall ill myself?
Yes, and no. Yes and no. The law applies to bonding with a newborn child. However, it is also available for caring for someone close to you with a serious illness. Parents, children, spouses and domestic partners as well as grandparents and grandchildren are all considered close family members. NYPFL can be used to cover certain situations, such as when family members are required to serve active military service overseas.
NYPFL does not cover your own medical conditions. However, it is a benefit that you can use to care for family members. However, most employees are covered by NYPFL. If you have NY statutory short term disability, you will also be covered for wage-replacement benefits for short-term disabilities. In most cases, you will have New York Disability leave available to you for your personal illness.
You may be eligible for NYPFL or disability benefits depending on your employer’s size. This is if you, or your dependent child, are placed under a mandatory, precautionary, or exclusion order due to COVID-19. You can find details about which benefits you may be eligible to receive in those instances through this website.
Can I combine this with FMLA or any short-term disability benefits I may be entitled to?
FMLA: Your employer may require that these benefits run concurrently if they are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. If you are eligible for 12 weeks NYPFL leave and take 12 weeks of FMLA leave, then the FMLA would be concurrently applied to NYPFL.
Short-term Disability: You may be eligible for both NYPFL and short-term disability, but not simultaneously (except in the case where you are quarantined due to COVID-19). If a mother is eligible for short-term disabilities after giving birth, she may be eligible to take NYPFL first. In a 52-week time period, you cannot take more than 26 weeks of short-term disability combined with NYPFL.
NYPFL is not available to workers’ compensation if you are receiving workers’ compensation due to a total disability. You might still be eligible if your earnings are reduced and you collect workers’ compensation.
If my company pays for some portion of leave, can I combine the amount I’m paid from my company and from my NYPFL insurance carrier?
While you are on NYPFL, you cannot receive more that 100% of your wages. The specifics of the policy of your employer will determine how NYPFL and your leave policy interact. NYPFL is a benefit that you have the right to, if you are eligible. You have the option to request more from your employer, but it is not mandatory.
Is the leave pay taxed?
Yes, NYPFL benefits can be taxable. They must be included in federal gross Income. The premiums are taken from the after-tax wages of employees. This means you are paying upfront and through taxes for it. While insurance companies won’t automatically withhold taxes on benefits, employees have the option to request voluntary tax withholding.
What do I have to do to get the money and by when? How am I paid?
Once you have completed the paperwork, you will send it to your NYPFL insurance company. To avoid losing your benefits, the paperwork must be received within 30 days of your first day of leave. You will be paid by the insurance carrier via direct deposit or paper check. Insurance carriers will not leave you waiting for too long. They have 18 days to approve/denial a claim starting from the day they receive your application. This is usually 18 days after the first day of leave.
Are there any caps on how often I can use the leave, annually or in my lifetime?
The law allows you to take time off if you have many children or need to leave for a long period of time. There is no limit on the number of NYPFL trips you can take, how much you can get paid and for which events. You can receive the full benefit once every 52 weeks.
Do I still receive my health benefits while I’m out on leave?
Yes, If you contribute to your current health insurance, your employer will continue to pay your contribution even if you are on leave.
How is this paid for?
This program is funded by small payroll contributions from employees. These contributions are used to pay your employer’s NYPFL premium. The deduction is not optional. You will have to pay as long as your employer covers you. It works in the same way as health insurance. Even though you don’t need it, it is there for you when you’re ready to start a family or care for someone you love.
How much exactly will be deducted from each paycheck?
The 2021 payroll contribution equals 0.511% your weekly wage. It is limited to an annual maximum of $355.34. An annual contribution will be paid if you earn less that the New York State Average weekly wage that is $1450.17/week, which is consistent with your actual weekly wages. If you make $27,000 per year, meaning you get $519/week, then you’ll pay $2.65 per week. This handy calculator will help you calculate your contribution.
Do all companies have to provide leave or are some exempt? Can employees opt out?
Private employers in New York must have NYPFL coverage.
The law does not apply to public employers, but they can opt in to the program. You should check with your employer to confirm that they have opted in if you work for the state, city, or federal governments. You can get NYPFL if you are employed by a public company and a member of a union. To find out if you qualify, you should check with your representative.
NYPFL coverage cannot be waived by employees if they comply with the following requirements:
- They work more than 20 hours per work week, but they will not be employed for 26 consecutive weeks (seasonal workers)
- They work less than 20 hours per work week, and they will not work for at most 175 days over a 52-week period.
Part-time employees, who work only one or two days per week, are not eligible. They may request a waiver in this case. You will lose eligibility for NYPFL benefits if you have waived coverage. Your employer can’t deduct payroll contributions from your paycheck.
Where do I go if I have more questions?
Your company’s Human Resources department is the best place to begin. The employee handbook can be helpful if you aren’t ready to inform your employer about the new addition. New York State’s website can answer most questions. Call the NYPFL hotline at (844) 337-6303 for more information.