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NYS Paid Family Leave

NYS Paid Family Leave

NYS Paid Family Leave (PFL) was signed into law in 2016, and became available to classified Management/Confidential (MC06) employees in 2018.

As of January 1, 2019, PFL is available to unclassified Management/Confidential (SUNY MC13) and UUP-represented employees, and may become available to other union-represented employees through the collective bargaining process.

This web page discusses PFL program details for unclassified Management/Confidential (SUNY MC13) and UUP-represented employees.  The PFL policy for UUP-represented employees is available here. Information about the PFL program available to classified groups (e.g., MC06 employees) is available at https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/.

The purpose of PFL is to help employees with work-life balance by providing a paid leave alternative to charging paid leave accruals for leaves of absence to attend to family* needs associated with:

*Definitions of "family" detailed in Qualifications section (below). PFL is not available for an employee's own serious health condition or military activation.

PFL Benefits

While on PFL, employment is protected; health insurance is also protected, provided premiums continue to be paid. Once health insurance premiums stop being paid for through biweekly payroll deductions, the NYS Dept. of Civil Service Employee Benefits Division will bill enrollees directly via U.S. Mail, so employees should be sure that their current mailing address is on file. As PFL is a leave without pay, retirement contributions and service credit are not applicable while on PFL.

PFL for 2019: up to ten weeks of leave in any 52-week period, paid at 55% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 55% of the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW). For 2019, the SAWW is $1,357.11, so the maximum weekly PFL benefit someone may receive is $746.41.

PFL for 2020: up to ten weeks of leave in any 52-week period, paid at 60% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 60% of the SAWW. For 2020, the SAWW is $1,401.17, so the maximum weekly PFL benefit someone may receive is $840.70.

PFL for 2021: up to 12 weeks of leave in any 52-week period, paid at 67% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 67% of the SAWW

Every year, the NYS Dept. of Labor determines the SAWW for the upcoming year. Your average weekly wage is the average of your last eight weeks of pay received for the regular obligation prior to starting PFL. To estimate your PFL benefits, use the Weekly Benefits Calculator.

For eligible professional employees whose regular professional obligation is primarily other than teaching classes, the benefit payable will be based upon the employee’s regular professional obligation.

For eligible academic employees whose regular professional obligation is primarily teaching, the benefits payable will be based on the number of days routinely scheduled for teaching and student contact per workweek, for which the employee is absent. 

An employee may not charge accruals and receive PFL on the same day.

PFL may be taken on a continuous or on a periodic basis. When PFL is taken on a periodic basis, it must be used in single day increments. Partial day increments are not permitted.

In the event an employee wishes to take time off to care for a qualifying family member an employee may elect to receive full pay by using accrued leave, or elect not to charge accrued leave and receive the statutory PFL benefits. Time charged to leave accruals will not count against an employee’s annual PFL entitlement.

PFL Eligibility

A professional or academic employee whose regular professional obligation is primarily other than teaching classes is eligible for PFL if working:

  • at least twenty hours per week, once they have completed 26 consecutive workweeks of such employment; or
  • less than 20 hours per week, once they have completed 175 workdays of such employment. For eligibility purposes work days include days that the employee reports to work.

An academic employee whose regular professional obligation is primarily teaching classes is eligible for PFL if teaching:

  • at least 2 courses per semester, once they have completed 26 consecutive workweeks of such employment; or
  • less than 2 courses per semester, once they have completed 175 workdays of such employment. For eligibility purposes, work days include days the employee is scheduled to teach/student contact, plus one day per week.

Periods of professional obligation beginning prior to and/or after their respective semesters will count for eligibility purposes.

Unlike the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), there is no requirement of completion of a minimum number of hours worked before an employee becomes eligible for PFL. Employees who meet the eligibility criteria, and have an unpaid leave of absence or vacation, are entitled to PFL immediately upon return to pay status. There is no need to re-satisfy the service requirement. Paid leaves of absence or other periods where the employee is away from work but is still considered to be an employee are counted toward the service requirement, as long as the biweekly premium payment the employee makes toward the cost of PFL benefits has been paid for such periods of time.

For eligibility purposes, separations of less than one year will not constitute a break in service. Once an employee has had a separation of more than one year they will once again have to meet the minimum eligibility requirements for PFL.

PFL Cost

Employees pay for these benefits through a small biweekly payroll deduction, which is a percentage of their wages up to a cap set annually.

Every year, the NYS Dept. of Financial Services determines the PFL premium rate for the upcoming year. For 2019, the payroll contribution is 0.153% of an employee’s weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $107.97. Employees earning at a lesser rate than the New York State Average Weekly Wage will have a total annual contribution amount less than the cap of $107.97, consistent with their actual weekly wages. For 2020, the payroll contribution is 0.27% of an employee's wages each pay period, not to exceed an annual maximum employee contribution of $196.72. Employees earning at a lesser rate than the New York State Average Weekly Wage will have a total annual contribution amount less than the cap of $196.72, consistent with their actual weekly wages.

This deduction is automatic for all employees, unless an opt-out/waiver form is filed with their campus HR/Benefits office. Employees may only opt-out of PFL if they will not meet the eligibility criteria, however the opt-out will expire upon meeting the eligibility criteria, and retroactive contributions may be collected. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS apply to unclassified employees completing the NYS Paid Family Leave Waiver.

PFL Qualifications & Definitions

Qualifying reasons for PFL include:

  • to bond with a newly born, adopted, or fostered child (expires at the end of the consecutive 52-week period beginning on the date of birth or placement)
  • to care for a covered family member with a serious health condition
  • to assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service

Employees should provide at least 30 days’ advance notice if the reason for PFL is foreseeable, for example: an expected birth, placement for adoption or foster care, planned medical treatment for a serious health condition of a covered family member or service member, or known military exigency. If 30 days’ notice is not practicable, then notice must be given as soon as reasonably possible. Employees must also advise the employer as soon as possible when dates of a scheduled leave change, are extended, or were initially unknown.

PFL Definitions (per Workers' Compensation Law, section 201)

  1. Child - a biological, adopted, or foster son or daughter, a stepson or stepdaughter, a legal ward, a son or daughter of a domestic partner, or the person to whom the employee stands in loco parentis.
  2. Domestic Partner - has the same meaning as set forth in Section 4 of the Workers’ Compensation Law.
  3. Serious Health Condition - an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility, continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider. Continuing supervision by a health care provider includes a period of incapacity which is permanent or long term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective where the family member is under the continuing supervision of, but need not be receiving active treatment by, a health care provider.
  4. Parent - a biological, foster, or adoptive parent, a parent-in-law, a stepparent, a legal guardian, or other person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a child.
  5. Family Member - a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, or domestic partner as defined in this section.
  6. Grandchild - a child of the employee’s child.
  7. Health Care Provider - a physician, physician’s assistant, chiropractor, dentist or dental hygienist, physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, nurse, midwife, podiatrist, optometrist, psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, mental health practitioner, or any person licensed under the NYS Public Health Law.
  8. Grandparent - a parent of the employee’s parent.
  9. Providing Care - Physical care, emotional support, visitation, assistance in treatment, transportation, arranging for a change in care, assistance with essential daily living matters, and personal attendant services.

How to File for PFL

Employees should provide at least 30 days’ advance notice if the reason for PFL is foreseeable, for example: an expected birth, placement for adoption or foster care, planned medical treatment for a serious health condition of a family member or covered service member, or known military exigency. If 30 days’ notice is not practicable, then notice must be given as soon as reasonably possible. Employees must also advise the employer as soon as possible when dates of a scheduled leave change, are extended, or were initially unknown.

PFL Claim Submission Procedure and Medical Documentation Provisions

Eligible employees who qualify for PFL will be paid by The Standard (the insurance carrier) – not New York State as their employer. In addition to a campus’s normal medical documentation provisions and/or any documentation requirements applicable under other leave programs (e.g., FMLA), an eligible employee who wishes to utilize PFL benefits must complete the appropriate Request for Paid Family Leave forms:

  • For PFL to bond with a newborn, newly adopted, or fostered child, employees must complete and file as appropriate, forms in the SUNY PFL Bonding Packet w/supporting documentation
  • For PFL to care for a family member with a serious health condition, employees must complete and file as appropriate, forms in the SUNY PFL Care of Family Packet with supporting documentation
  • For PFL to assist when a family member is called to active military duty or impending active duty abroad, employees must complete and file as appropriate, forms in the SUNY PFL Military Leave Packet with supporting documentation

Once a campus is in receipt of the completed form from an employee, the campus must complete the employer information contained in Part B of the PFL-1, verify employee information and eligibility, and return the form to the employee within three business days.

The employee must then submit the request for PFL together with the information supplied by the campus and any necessary certifications or proof of claim documentation, medical, or otherwise, to The Standard. Generally, the medical documentation and/or necessary certifications will be comparable to information normally required by the campus (FMLA documentation or documentation from a medical provider which justifies use of leave accruals will normally satisfy this requirement).

Supporting Documentation

The following are the supporting documentation requirements for employees requesting PFL (the employee is not required to submit this information to the agency, but should submit it directly to The Standard):

Childbirth

The documentation requirement for a claim for PFL to bond with a newly born child depends on whether the applicant is the birth parent or the second parent.

The birth parent must submit a birth certificate, if available, or documentation of pregnancy or birth from a health care provider. The document must include the parent’s name and the child’s due date or birth date. The second parent must submit, if available, a birth certificate naming them as a parent. If a birth certificate naming the second parent is not available, the second parent may submit a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or a Court Order of Filiation naming them as a parent.

If those documents are not available, the second parent can submit birth documentation from the birth parent’s health care provider and either a marriage certificate or evidence of a civil union or domestic partnership to demonstrate the relationship to the birth parent.

If none of these documents are available, the second parent may submit other documentary evidence of parental relationship to the child, to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by The Standard.

Foster Care

A claim for PFL to bond with a fostered child requires the submission of a letter of placement issued by a county or city department of social services or local voluntary agency. If a second parent is not named in documentation, a copy of the document plus a document verifying the relation to the parent named in the foster care placement will be needed.

Adoption

A claim for PFL to bond with an adopted child requires a court document finalizing adoption or, for PFL taken before the adoption is complete, a document showing that the adoption process is underway. Examples of proof of a pending adoption include a signed statement from an attorney, adoption agency, or adoption-related social service provider stating the employee is in the process of adopting a child.

If the second parent is not named in that document, they must also file documentation verifying the relationship to the parent named in the adoption.

Serious Health Condition

A claim for PFL to care for a family member with a serious health condition requires a medical certification completed by the care recipient’s health care provider.

An authorization for personal health disclosure form is required by the HIPAA Privacy Rule and must be completed by the care recipient and retained on file with the health care provider in order to submit the required medical information.

Active Military Duty Deployment

A claim for PFL to assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty generally requires a US Department of Labor “Certificate of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave.” Those forms include (1) military documentation of the family member’s deployment or impending deployment (active duty orders or other notice from the military), and (2) documentation of the reason for leave.

Impact of PFL on Attendance & Leave and Other Benefits

PFL does not allow for the accrual of service credit or other benefits during the leave. Employees utilizing PFL benefits are deemed to be in leave without pay status.

An employee on PFL is not entitled to any credit for holidays (including floating holidays) which fall during the leave. The employee may not be granted leave with full pay or compensatory time off for any such holiday.

An employee on PFL does not earn vacation or sick leave accruals. Employees on periodic PFL will earn accruals only so long as they are in full pay status (working, charging leave accruals, or on any other leave at full pay) for each month, or major fraction thereof.

An employee on PFL for 28 consecutive calendar days will have their Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule (VRWS) agreement suspended.

Employees are not permitted to use PFL benefits during any period they are on leave for any other reason. An employee who is out of work due to a personal or work-related disability, or any other type of short or long-term leave, may not receive PFL benefits while in such status (e.g., charging leave accruals, workers’ comp, leave donation, disciplinary suspension, etc.). While employees aren’t required to return to duty prior to receiving PFL, it must be clear that the leave they were on previously has ended. For example, an employee who was injured at work and was receiving workers’ compensation benefits may not elect PFL benefits until the day after they are cleared to return to duty.

PFL may not be used to extend employment beyond the point it would otherwise end by operation of law, rule, or regulation.

While on PFL, health insurance is protected, provided premiums continue to be paid. Once health insurance premiums stop being paid for through biweekly payroll deductions, the NYS Dept. of Civil Service Employee Benefits Division will bill enrollees directly via U.S. Mail, so employees should be sure that their current mailing address is on file.

Retirement contributions and accrual of service credit cease during periods of PFL, as PFL is a leave without pay.

Questions regarding PFL absences, including eligibility, should be directed to your campus Human Resources/Benefits Office.

Questions related to the claims process should be directed via email to PFL@flexbene.com or phone at 888-PFL-SUNY (888-735-7869). Reporting questions, claim-specific issues, return to work notifications, and claims payment questions should be directed to The Standard at 833-786-5638.

SUNY PFL Notice

SUNY PFL Statement of Rights

5 Facts About SUNY PFL

 

For further information and/or assistance, please contact the Benefits Office at your State-Operated College or Community College campus.

Benefits