How Does New York State Paid Family Leave work?
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen too many employees placed in difficult positions; caring for themselves or family members has forced many to leave jobs or juggle schedules. However, many employees do have access to family leave, particularly those in New York. New York State has one of the most comprehensive paid family leave packages in the United States, but unfortunately, not everyone is eligible. If you are in need of taking leave, it may be in your best interests to research whether the New York plan may be a better option for you than the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
As with any binary choice, the New York plan and the FMLA have both positives and negatives; perhaps the most obvious one is that the New York plan separates paid leave and sick leave, with different totals available for each type. The state program allows up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year (depending on the number of employees and amount of income an employer has), but those totals are completely separate from paid leave taken for another reason.
Another major difference is who the laws apply to. The FMLA applies to private-sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 work weeks in the current or previous calendar year. New York’s plan excludes certain workers that do not meet the state’s legal definition of “employee” – examples include golf caddies and rabbis, among others – but aside from such exceptions, any employee who works at least 20 hours per week is categorized as a full-time employee and is eligible to take paid family leave. All employees in New York may immediately take sick leave, with no requirements beforehand.
Approval and Denial
In order to apply for either paid sick leave or paid family leave in New York, you must notify your employer at least 30 days ahead of time if at all possible, and complete the relevant forms for submission to your employer’s family leave insurance carrier. The carrier must approve or deny benefits within 18 days of receiving your documentation or your first day of leave, whichever is later. If you take the leave but are denied, it is entirely up to your employer as to how they will treat it.
If your request is denied, be aware that any appeal must, by New York state law, be handled in arbitration, rather than by a standard court of law. Arbitration is a method of alternative dispute resolution that is becoming more popular among employers, but it can be difficult and confusing for employees to navigate if they do not have help to do so. Arbitration has different standards in terms of evidence and documentation required, and a binding arbitration decision is generally not appealable.
Contact A New York Employment Lawyer
Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic or any other hardships, life will inevitably go on, and sometimes an employee must focus on family or other issues besides work. In those situations, paid leave can make all the difference in a family member having support or none at all. The New York City Family Leave & Medical Act lawyers at Mansell Law, LLC can offer knowledgeable and dedicated representation at a time when you need answers quickly. Contact our offices today at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation.