Expert Forum: NYS Paid Family Leave – Is Your Business Ready?

By: Amy L. HemenwayAmy L. Hemenway
Partner, Labor & Employment Law at Harter Secrest & Emery


January 1, 2018 marks the start of the most generous paid family leave program in the nation. Once fully phased in, the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFL) will provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave for eligible employees to bond with a new child (including adopted or foster children), to care for a family member (including grandparents/grandchildren) with a serious health condition, or to assist with family obligations when a family member is called into active military service.


PFL is unique because it affects nearly every employer in New York. Below are some highlights:

  • Takes effect January 1, 2018.
  • For the first year, employees are entitled to eight weeks of job-protected leave, with a paid benefit of 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at $652.96 per week.
  • Available to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or address certain obligations when a family member is called into active military service.
  • Employers must provide written guidance to employees in the employer’s handbook or other written material.
  • The 2018 maximum employee contribution is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, capped at $1.65 per week.
  • Pay deductions could have started as early as July 1, 2017.

There are still many unknowns concerning the implications of PFL, but the impact on employers could be significant. While the program is employee-funded, businesses will still shoulder hidden costs and the burden of behind the scenes tasks such as administering the program, outsourcing temporary coverage, or paying overtime to cover missing workers’ hours.

Important steps that employers should take now to ensure full compliance by January 1 include:

  • Determine if you need PFL coverage and how you will obtain it.
  • Consider how and when to start employee pay deductions.Paid Family Leave
  • Review, revise, and coordinate all leave and paid time off policies.
  • Prepare and implement a PFL policy.
  • Explore staffing solutions to cover absences.
  • Educate and train staff.

It is important that employers take a holistic view of the business, in order to minimize risk and inform critical business decisions. Our attorneys have experience in similar types of leave management and a comprehensive background in the implementation of best practices. Our goal is to put you in the optimal position, in advance of PFL, for legal compliance—with minimal risk and disruption to your business.

For more information on the PFL, visit the HSE Labor and Employment blog, and click here to view our recent PFL webinar. Please contact a member of our team at any time with questions or if we can help you update and revise your leave policies to ensure compliance.


About Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

Harter Secrest & Emery LLP is a full-service business law firm providing legal services to clients ranging from individuals and family-owned businesses to Fortune 100 companies and major regional institutions. With offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Corning, and New York City, New York, the firm is a recognized leader in litigation, corporate, employee benefits, environmental and land use, health care, higher education, immigration, intellectual property, labor and employment, real estate, and trusts and estate law.

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Harter Secrest & Emery



Disclaimer: The above commentary entails the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.


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