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What you need to know about New York's Paid Family Leave

Life is far from predictable. In fact, you can probably only predict that your life will change. Your employer may not want to deal with the changes in your life, but federal and state laws require it. In fact, in 1993, the federal government recognized the need for you to take time away from work in order to handle certain personal issues.

Most states adopted the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, and at no cost to employees. New York recently implemented an insurance plan that allows employees to receive income while they take off work for similar reasons. Beginning Jan. 1 of this year, the state made some changes that you may benefit from if you need to take a substantial amount of time off work. 

What is Paid Family Leave?

You may be entitled to paid time off and job protection under the following circumstances: 

  • If a close relative requires your care for a serious health condition
  • If you need time to bond with a newborn, a foster child or an adopted child
  • If an active duty military family member is deployed abroad and you need to assist other family members

During your time off you continue to receive health insurance. If you pay premiums, you must continue making those payments in order for your health insurance to remain active. You are also entitled to return to work in the same or a comparable position. You may take a combination of Paid Family Leave and short-term disability consecutively, but not more than 26 weeks out of 52 once the plan is in place.

For 2018, you may take up to eight weeks and continue to receive half of your income during this time up to a certain maximum amount. By the year 2021, you may take up to 12 weeks and receive 67 percent of your income. You will pay a small premium through a payroll deduction to participate in the Paid Family Leave insurance plan.

Who can take Paid Family Leave?

In order to qualify for this leave, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • If you are a part-time employee working less than 20 hours per week on a regular schedule, you may apply for this leave after you have worked for your employer at least 175 days.
  • If you are a full-time employee working at least 20 hours per week, you may apply for this leave after you have worked for your employer for at least 26 consecutive weeks.

The problem is that like other insurance plans, an insurer never guarantees coverage. You could end up facing a denial of coverage after you already counted on receiving that income.

Before you begin your leave, you may want to ensure that you have correctly filled out the paperwork and provide the right information substantiating your request. If you receive a denial, you may be able to appeal that decision. Since this is still a relatively new program, it may take some time before everyone truly understands how it will work.

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