Starting January 1st, the new Paid Family Leave law allows workers to take time off to care for a newborn, or a sick family member, or help loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty.
US Employee Benefits Services Group is a benefits consulting firm serving upstate New York.
Account manager Kristen Coolbaugh says paid family leave differs from disability leave.
“Paid family leave is for care for a family member. So family members include children, parents, in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, and domestic partners and spouses” she said.
Coolbaugh says the regulations as of now do not consider siblings as a family member, so employees could not take paid family leave to care for a sick brother or sister.
"However since it is going into effect next year and it's being phased in over a four-year period, that could potentially change for 2019. But for 2018 they're not included," she said.
Benefits will be phased in over four years, and for 2018, eligible employees can take up to eight weeks of paid leave at 50% of their average weekly salary.
This amount is capped at the New York State average weekly wage, currently $1305.02, so the maximum benefit people are allowed to receive is $652.96 per week
The benefit is employee funded, costing workers .126 percent of their weekly wage.
Coolbaugh says this benefit will make a big difference for many working families.
“I think it’s a great benefit going into effect. Receiving a paid benefit can help take some burden off of worrying about incoming expenses and how those would get paid, while being able to focus on what’s most important -- family," she said.
She says employers will have to do additional reporting to make sure employees are eligible, and they are taking paid family leave.
But it’s up to the carrier to approve the time off, and make the payment.