New York State’s landmark Paid Family Leave program will benefit Queens workers starting next year

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New York is preparing to implement its landmark Paid Family Leave program, which will provide virtually every private employee in New York State with job-protected, paid leave to deal with family issues, which aims to be one of the strongest in the country.

This new program — which was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2016 — allows employees paid time off for maternity and paternity leave, care for a loved one with a serious health condition, or to help deal with family pressures when a family member is called to active military service.

“At times, it is important to be there for a loved one in need,” said state Senator Joseph Addabbo, who was a prime sponsor of Senate legislation on the issue and one of the leading advocates for the program in Albany. “This new state program will allow increased flexibility for those employees who suddenly find themselves dealing with vitally important family matters, while not financially affecting their employers..”

All eligible employees are guaranteed to be paid during their family leave time and have job protection when they return, as well as continuing health insurance during their leave. Eligibility for the program is based on full-time employment for 26 weeks, or part-time employment for 175 days.

The Paid Family Leave program will begin on Jan. 1, 2018 and will continue to be phased in over four years. In 2018 employees are to be given eight weeks of paid family leave. In 2019, that increases to 10 weeks, and by 2021 it will be a full 12 weeks.

During the first year of rollouts, workers will be paid 50 percent of their average weekly wage. In 2019, it will be 55 percent; then 60 percent in 2020; and will cap out at 67 percent when the plan is fully implement in 2021.

The program will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions which — for some people — went into effect on July 1 of this year.

To find out more, visit the Paid Family Leave website at www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave or call the Paid Family Leave helpline at (844) 337-6303.