If your employees are unable to work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, they may be eligible for disability benefits or paid family leave.
We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions for your employees about their potential eligibility. More information can be found on our COVID-19 page or the state Paid Family Leave COVID-19 website.
NYSIF Paid Family Leave
Introduced in January 2018, New York’s state's Paid Family Leave (PFL) program provides workers with job-protected, paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition or to help relieve family pressures when someone is deployed abroad on active military service.
PFL is part of your NYSIF disability benefits (DB) policy, but does not replace DB coverage. Some employees may be eligible for both PFL and DB, although they may not be taken simultaneously. Employers must inform their employees of all available benefits.
Starting January 1, 2021, the number of weeks eligible employees can take to bond with a new child, care for a sick family member, or assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service increases to 12 weeks. The Paid Family Leave wage replacement benefit is increasing; in 2021, employees taking Paid Family Leave will receive 67% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 67% of the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,450.17. The maximum weekly benefit for 2021 is $971.61. Please visit the state Paid Family Leave website for a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
PFL is funded through employee payroll deductions. As an employer, you are responsible for collecting the appropriate PFL contributions to cover the cost of the program. The employee contribution rate is set every year to match the cost of insurance coverage.
For 2021, per the Department of Financial Services, the PFL payroll contribution rate will be 0.511% of an employee's weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $385.34. Employees earning less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1,450.17 per week) will have an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $385.34, consistent with their actual weekly wages.
For 2020, per the Department of Financial Services, the PFL payroll contribution rate will be 0.27% of an employee's weekly wage and is capped at an annual maximum of $196.72. Employees earning less than the New York State Average Weekly Wage ($1,401.17 per week) will have an annual contribution amount less than the cap of $196.72, consistent with their actual weekly wages.
Employees with a regular work schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 weeks of employment. Employees with a regular work schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days worked. The program will be fully implemented on January 1, 2021, and will offer up to 12 weeks paid leave at 67% of the employee's average weekly wages, up to the maximum benefit of 67% of the New York State AWW.
Special Employment Circumstances
New York State public employers, including governmental agencies, political subdivisions and public authorities, may obtain voluntary coverage for Disability Benefits, Paid Family Leave, or both Disability Benefits and Paid Family Leave. A public employer must notify all employees who will be required to make contributions and the NYS Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) 90 days before the first Paid Family Leave employee deduction is made.
Employers with Domestic Household Employees
If you employ domestic household employees that do not work at least 40 hours per week, you may opt-in for combined DB and PFL coverage by submitting an application for approval to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. After obtaining WCB approval, contact your NYSIF DB underwriter to complete enrollment.
Voluntary Coverage Entities
Private employers who opted-in for voluntary coverage by obtaining approval from the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board are covered for PFL under your NYSIF disability benefits policy. Please contact NYSIF’s DB Underwriting Department if you have any questions regarding your coverage.
Self-Employed Individuals with No Employees
Any self-employed individuals that do not have employees and are seeking coverage are not required to obtain WCB approval but must notify NYSIF in writing that they wish to have PFL coverage. Self-employed individuals may include sole proprietors, members of limited liability companies or limited liability partnerships or other self-employed persons.
Sole Proprietors, Partners, Limited Liability Companies and Limited Liability Partnerships
Sole Proprietors and Partners, members of Limited Liability Companies or Limited Liability Partnerships, and other self-employed individuals who are exempt from New York State Disability Benefits insurance coverage may opt-in for combined DB and PFL coverage by submitting an Application for Voluntary Coverage form. You must submit a separate form for DB and PFL to the New York State Workers' Compensation Board (see below: either PFL-135 or PFL 136 as applicable). After obtaining WCB approval, contact your underwriter or submit an Employer Application to complete enrollment.
Two-Year Waiting Period for PFL Benefits
Sole Proprietors and Partners, members of LLCs or LLPs, and other self-employed individuals who are seeking coverage within 26 weeks after the start of a new business (or first becoming a sole proprietor, partner or member within an existing business) are not subject to a two-year waiting period. Any existing Sole Proprietors and Partners, members of LLCs or LLPs, and other self-employed individuals (who have been in business longer than 26 weeks) may opt-in to PFL coverage. However, there is a two-year waiting period before they are eligible for PFL benefits.
For more information regarding Paid Family Leave, please visit the New York State Paid Family Leave website. Links to the rules and regulations governing PFL are listed below.
- Workers' Compensation Board Final Regulations (Notice of Adoption published in the July 19, 2017, edition of the State Register)
- The Department of Financial Services Final Regulations (issued May 31, 2017)
All forms below are hosted by the state's Paid Family Leave website and are available in other languages.
- Employer’s Application for Voluntary Coverage (No Employee Contribution) (PFL-135)
- Employer’s Application for Voluntary Coverage (Employee Contribution Required) (PFL-136)
- Statement of Rights for Paid Family Leave (PFL-271S)
- Employee Paid Family Leave Opt-Out and Waiver of Benefits (PFL-Waiver)
- Model Language for Workplace Written Materials: Sample PFL language for customizing handbooks and other written guidance for employees.
This page was updated September 23, 2020.