NY Paid Family Leave: 5 Key Changes for 2019

September 14, 2018
Image of 2018 changing to 2019

New York's paid family leave program has five key changes in store for 2019. Remember, the program scales up over the next three years. Benefits and leave duration will gradually increase each year until 2021. Other program elements will change each year, including the State Average Weekly Wage and the premium rate. Here's a quick overview, plus claim examples you can use to help employees understand the changes.


5 Key New York PFL Program Changes in 2019
Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW)$1,305.92$1,357.11
Benefit DurationUp to 8 weeks or 40 daysUp to 10 weeks or 50 days
Benefit Percentage50% of employee's average weekly wage to a cap of 50% of the SAWW55% of employee's average weekly wage to a cap of 55% of the SAWW
Maximum Benefit Amount$652.96$746.41
Payroll Deduction Rate0.126% covered payroll up to annual cap of $85.560.153% covered payroll up to annual cap of $107. 97


Will These Changes Affect Claims That Started in 2018?

No, the changes won’t apply to claims that began in 2018. The benefit amount and duration of leave is set at the time the leave begins. The increased benefits and duration will be effective for PFL claims that begin after Jan. 1, 2019. Check out some claim examples:

Example 1: Greg's Continuous Bonding Claim

Greg's wife has a baby Nov. 15, 2018 and he begins his leave that day. He plans to use all eight weeks available to him at the same time and return to work Jan. 11, 2019. He’ll receive 50 percent of his average weekly wage and use up all his available PFL by Jan. 10, 2019.



Example 2: Sophie's Intermittent Care of Spouse Claim

Sophie's husband receives a diagnosis of end-stage renal failure on Nov. 9, 2018. She begins using her NY PFL Nov. 12, 2018 for three days a week. She uses it to drives her husband to dialysis appointments and care for him after. Because Sophie's leave begins in 2018, she'll have up to eight weeks of PFL available (or 40 days if she works full-time). She'll receive a 50 percent benefit payment. Sophie won't receive extra days or higher benefits after Jan. 1, 2019, even though the program changes.



Are There Any Situations Where Someone Could Begin Leave in 2018 and Get the Higher Benefit in 2019?

Not during the same claim. But an employee could return to work for more than three months, then file a new claim for the same event — or a new event. The new claim would be calculated with 2019 rates and benefits.

Example 3: Mary's Bonding Claim With Continuous Blocks

Mary gives birth on Oct. 1, 2018 and uses her disability benefits law coverage for her first eight weeks of leave. She begins her NY PFL bonding leave on Nov. 27, 2018 and uses five weeks of her bonding leave. She returns to work on Jan. 2, 2019. During these five weeks, she receives 50 percent of her average weekly wage. Mary returns to work until April 1, 2019. She decides to take more bonding leave for her baby born on Oct. 1, 2018. Since she's been back at work for more than three full months, Mary files a new claim for the same birth event. Her new leave begins in 2019, so she’s eligible for up to five more weeks of PFL and a 55 percent benefit payment.



Example 4: Nate's Intermittent Care of Family Member Claim — With More Than 3-Month Break

Nate regularly works 40 hours per week. He needs to use PFL to take care of his mother after her knee replacement surgery, beginning Nov. 10, 2018. But Nate only needs two days off per week, because his sister is also available part-time to care for his mother. He uses a total of 10 days of NY PFL in 2018, and another six days in 2019. Because his leave began in 2018, he's only eligible to receive 50 percent of his average weekly wage.

Nate returns to work full-time until May 20, 2019 when his mother has her other knee replaced. He files a new claim beginning May 20, 2019. That may give Nate up to 34 days remaining (total of 10 weeks or 50 days of leave under the 2019 allotments). His new benefit calculation will be 55 percent of his average weekly wage.



Example 5: Greg's Claim for Different Qualifying Event in 2019

Remember Greg from Example 1 who used bonding leave from Nov. 15, 2018 to Jan. 10, 2019? In March 2019, his wife has to have ankle surgery. He applies to take PFL leave to care for her beginning March 18, 2019. He's already taken eight weeks of leave in the last 12 months. Under 2019 rules, Greg has up to two weeks of leave available to him for this new PFL event. If Greg takes all 10 days, he'll have no more PFL available for the remainder of the 12-month period that started Nov. 15, 2018. He'll be eligible for leave again beginning Nov. 16, 2019.



3 More Tips to Explain the Calendar Year Change

  • The new statewide weekly wage amount and payroll deduction rate does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2019, even though the state announced both in 2018.
  • If an employee used PFL leave in 2018, it will be considered in any 2019 PFL leave. The program uses a “rolling backward” calendar to determine an employee's remaining leave.
  • Any new claim an employee files after three months back at work will require a new calculation of the employee's average weekly wage.

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PFL Administration / New York