Needing time off from work is something that almost every person needs now and then. You may be someone who needs extended time off due to a personal medical condition or in order to handle a close family member’s care or for another reason covered under federal law. As a result, you may have relied on the Family and Medical Leave Act for that leave and for job protection.

Though the FMLA is certainly useful, the federal law has some coverage gaps that can sometimes hinder workers’ ability to take needed leave. Because of that reason, New York state created its own state-level act call the Paid Family Leave Act, which went into effect in 2018.

Similarities and differences

Much like the FMLA, the Paid Family Leave law allows qualifying workers to take time off for maternity or paternity leave for the birth of a new child, the adoption of a child or the fostering of a child. Workers can also take time off to provide care for a loved one with a serious medical condition and handle repercussions of a military family member’s deployment. Both programs also allow for workers to return to work at their same position or a similar one.

For differences, the state law allows workers to take paid leave, and the FMLA only allows for unpaid leave. Additionally, some workers covered by the state law may not have coverage under federal law. The FMLA has requirements relating to the number of employees a company has, the amount of time worked at the company, and whether the individual works part-time or full-time. The Paid Family Leave law has its own stipulations for coverage and does not cover leave for a personal health condition.

Employer obligations

Though time off can often cause employers to feel harried because of the need to find ways to cover tasks left by employees on leave, employers must still comply with the law. Because it has only been in effect for a year, changes are likely, and staying updated is important.

Employees should also remain up to date on the Paid Family Leave law and any changes made as they could affect their rights. If they do not understand what benefits this new law grants them, they may open themselves up to violations of their leave rights from their employers that would need addressing. It may prove wise for interested individuals to gain more information on this new program and the federal FMLA from knowledgeable legal professionals.