Employees in New York may be qualified for paid leave under state law, sick leave, and paid COVID-19 quarantine leave in addition to time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employers in New York, like those in every state, are required to abide by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles qualified workers to unpaid leave for specific reasons. The right to be reinstated to one’s job exists once an employee’s FMLA absence has expired.
The paid family leave and short-term disability policies are unique to New York. The state also has a statute requiring some companies to offer paid quarantine leave for COVID-19, in addition to a separate law requiring paid sick leave. Additionally, some New York employees are permitted to take time off for adoption and military leave. Employees are entitled to the protections of all applicable laws; if more than one law applies, the employee may use the most beneficial provisions.
In this article, Eastcoastlaws will outline all you need to know about the family and medical leave act in New York State.
Federal FMLA Rights
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave per year for certain family and medical reasons, including:
- The birth, adoption, or placement of a child.
- Caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
- An employee’s own serious health condition makes them unable to perform the essential functions of their job.
To be eligible for FMLA leave in New York, employees must:
- Work for a covered employer, typically a private sector employer with 50 or more employees, or a public agency or elementary/secondary school.
- Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.
- Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
Note that while FMLA provides job protection during the leave, it does not provide payment. However, some employees may be able to use accrued paid leave (such as sick or vacation time) to receive pay during their FMLA leave.
Who Is Covered?
Employers in New York are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Employees are eligible for FMLA to leave if:
- they have worked for the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
- they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Reasons for Leave
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
- recuperate from a serious health condition
- care for a family member with a serious health condition
- bond with a new child
- handle qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s military service, or
- care for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty in the military. (You can find more information on these last two types of leave in Military Family Leave for Employees.)
How Much Leave Is Available?
In order to connect with a new kid, take care of a significant health condition, or for other acceptable reasons, New York employees are permitted to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a calendar year. As long as the employee continues to satisfy the aforementioned qualifying standards, this leave is accessible every 12 months.
For military caregiver leave, employees are permitted to take up to 26 weeks of time off in a single 12-month period. This, however, is a per-injury, per-member entitlement. An employee may not request extra absence for this reason unless the same family member sustains another injury or a different family member sustains an injury while serving.
Also Read: HOW DOES SHORT-TERM DISABILITY WORK IN NY?
Leave And Reinstatement Rights
While on leave, employees are entitled to keep their health insurance at the same price they do when they’re working. Employees may be permitted (or forced) to use their accrued paid leave while on FMLA leave even when it is unpaid. Additionally, you can be qualified for benefits during your time off if you need a leave of absence for a cause covered by New York’s paid family leave or temporary disability insurance programs; see below. With a few exceptions, an employee is entitled to be restored to the same or an equivalent position when their FMLA leave is over.
New York Family and Medical Leave Laws
Some New York employees are also eligible for paid temporary disability and paid family leave, as well as unpaid time off for military family leaves and adoption leave, in addition to the rights provided by the FMLA.
New York Temporary Disability Insurance
Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) is a state-run program in New York that provides benefits to workers who have been employed for at least four weeks and are temporarily unable to work due to a disability (including pregnancy) that is unrelated to their job and is therefore not covered by New York workers’ compensation. After a seven-day waiting period, qualified workers may earn 50% of their regular pay for up to 26 weeks (but only up to the present legal maximum of $170).
New York Paid Family Leave
New York State offers Paid Family Leave (PFL) to eligible employees for the following reasons:
- To bond with a new child (including biological, adopted, or foster children) within the first 12 months after the birth, adoption, or placement.
- To care for a close relative with a serious health condition.
- To assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.
To be eligible for PFL in New York, employees must:
- Have been employed by their current employer for at least 26 consecutive weeks.
- Have a wage claim with the New York State Department of Labor.
- Be unable to perform the duties of their job because of the need to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child.
PFL provides eligible employees with a portion of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum of 67% of the state average weekly wage, for a maximum of 12 weeks in a 52-week period. PFL is a fully-insured program, meaning that benefits are paid through employee contributions.
New York Military Family Leave
New York State provides eligible employees with job-protected Military Family Leave (MFL) to address certain events related to military service. This includes:
- Deployment: To address any events that arise from the deployment of a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent on active military duty.
- Active Duty: To care for a service member who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness related to military service.
To be eligible for MFL in New York, employees must:
- Be the spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or next of kin of a service member on active military duty, or be the spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent of a National Guard or military reserve member who has been notified of an impending call to active military duty.
- Have been employed by their current employer for at least 20 weeks.
MFL provides eligible employees with job protection, meaning they cannot be discharged or discriminated against due to their leave. The length of the leave depends on the specific circumstances, but it can range from 7 to 30 calendar days in a calendar year.
Adoption Leave In New York
Employees who adopt a child who is preschool age or younger are entitled to the same amount of leave as is provided by all companies who offer it for the birth of a biological child (or who is up to 18 years old, if the child has a disability).
New York’s Paid Sick Leave Law
New York State has a paid sick leave law, known as the New York State Sick Leave Law, which went into effect on September 30, 2020. Under this law, most employees in New York are eligible for paid sick leave, including:
- Full-time, part-time, and per diem employees, with some exceptions.
- Employees of private sector employers with 100 or more employees.
- Employees of smaller private sector employers and certain public sector employers who are able to use accrued paid time off, such as vacation or personal leave.
Eligible employees accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. Accrued sick leave can be used for:
- Diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition.
- Preventive medical care.
- Care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition.
- Leave related to domestic violence, a sexually violent offense, stalking, or human trafficking.
Employers are required to provide employees with notice of their rights and entitlements under the New York State Sick Leave Law, including the amount of sick leave accrued, the terms and conditions of use, and the right to file a complaint with the New York State Department of Labor.
How To Apply For FMLA In New York State?
To apply for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in New York State, employees should follow these steps:
- Determine eligibility: Employees must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the leave.
- Notify employer: Employees should provide their employer with at least 30 days notice of their intent to take FMLA to leave when the need for leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, employees should provide notice as soon as is practical.
- Complete required forms: Employees must complete and submit any required forms, such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s WH-380-E, to their employer.
- Provide medical certification: If the leave is taken for a serious health condition, employees may be required to provide medical certification from their healthcare provider.
- Coordinate with employer: Employees should work with their employer to determine any available leave options, such as paid leave or accrued time off, and how they may be used in conjunction with FMLA leave.
It is important for employees to keep in mind that the process for taking FMLA leave can vary from employer to employer, so it is recommended to review their employer’s policies and procedures or speak with their HR representative for specific guidance.
Can Employer Deny Paid Family Leave in NY?
An employer in New York State cannot deny an eligible employee’s request for Paid Family Leave (PFL), but they can place certain restrictions on the use of PFL. An employer may require that an employee exhaust any available paid time off, such as vacation or personal leave, before taking PFL. An employer may also require that an employee use PFL concurrently with other available leave, such as sick leave.
It is important for employees to review their employer’s policies and procedures regarding PFL, as well as to carefully review any requirements and restrictions set forth in the New York State Paid Family Leave Law, to ensure that they are fully informed about their rights and entitlements.
If an employer is found to have denied an employee’s lawful request for PFL, the employee may file a complaint with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
What Happens If An Employee Is Not Eligible For FMLA?
If an employee is not eligible for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they may not be entitled to take unpaid leave for a qualifying event, such as the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, or the care of a family member with a serious health condition.
However, employees who are not eligible for FMLA may still be eligible for other types of leave, such as:
- State-provided family and medical leave: Some states, including New York, have their own family and medical leave laws that provide for paid or unpaid leave.
- Sick leave: Many employers offer paid sick leave, which may be used for personal or family care needs.
- Vacation time: Employees may be able to use accrued vacation time for family or medical leave.
- Personal leave: Some employers offer personal leave, which may be used for family or medical reasons.
It is important for employees to review their employer’s policies and procedures regarding leave, as well as to carefully review any applicable state and federal laws, to ensure that they are fully informed about their rights and entitlements.