The HR Trove by Willis Towers Watson logo

New York family leave: Is it a game changer?

Oct 19, 2017 11:20:44 AM / by The HR Trove by Willis Towers Watson

updated map january 2018

The leave landscape continues to shift for employers and employees alike. While the landmark 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provided job security for up to 12 weeks for leave, it has always been unpaid. Recent trends, however, have seen many states upping the ante with paid leave arrangements supporting a broader range of need.


New York paid family leave overview

On January 1, 2018, New York will join California, New Jersey and Rhode Island as the fourth state to provide paid family leave. This benefit will be incorporated under the state’s statutory disability policy and is more generous than the 6-week leave proposed by the Trump administration. It follows a growing trend of providing guaranteed wage replacement for employees to have time to bond with a new child, provide care for a close relative or relieve family pressures related to military service. The definition of family extends to grandparents and domestic partners.

New York law specifics

Any part-time or full-time employee working in New York for 26 weeks and at least 175 days is eligible for paid family leave outside of their paid-time-off allowance. Employees may choose to use sick and/or vacation time to supplement their leave income. Leave may be used for:

  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • Caring for a close relative with a serious health condition
  • Active duty deployment

Paid family leave will gradually increase over the next four years as follows:


Weeks available

Max % of employee salary

Cap % of state average weekly wage

















Employees will be able to take the maximum benefit in any 52-week period as of the first day the employee takes the paid family leave. This leave will be incorporated under the state’s statutory disability policy and will be funded by payroll deductions. As of today, workers compensation regulations state that “An employer is permitted, but not required, to collect the weekly employee contribution on July 1, 2017, for paid family leave coverage beginning on January 1, 2018.”

Who is considered family?

When defining “family,” remember:

  • State paid family leave regulations are generally more inclusive than the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state leaves usually include extended family members, including for some states' grandparents and siblings
  • Many states also include domestic partners (opposite and same-sex) even though federal law now recognizes same-sex marriage

Different state laws: A challenge for organizations

Many employers find it challenging to manage staff across state lines when policies are inconsistent from state to state. It may feel difficult to defend treating large segments of your staff differently simply because of where they are located. Organizations may want to take a step back to determine the best way to manage this patchwork of state mandates. Is there a better approach? Depending on your locations, you’ll need to balance cost and employee relations concerns to determine the best answer for your organization.

Even if you don’t have employees in one of four states that provide paid family leave, the federal government may make this a requirement in the future.

Download Our Free Quick Reference on State Leave Requirements

How should you begin preparing? Consider these 5 steps

1. Research the current legal and regulatory landscape and trends in time-off and parental leave programs

2. Develop objectives and options for consideration

  • Involve the right groups—including legal and financein setting objectives for potential policy changes
  • Determine options that can align with those objectives

3. Evaluate the policy change options across key areas of impact

  • Impact to existing employees
  • Impact on attractiveness of employee value proposition for recruiting
  • Policy cost
  • Administrative cost
  • Anticipated need for future change, given legal and regulatory environment

4. Confirm recommended direction with senior leadership

5. Implement updated policy documentation and administrative process, and communicate the good news to managers and employees

For more detailed guidance for employers, check out our latest employer guides on time-off and parental leave policies now available from The HR Trove.


Blog Contributor

Dan Margolis-Willis Towers Watson.jpg

Daniel Margolis, MBA, GPHR, PHR, SHRM-P Senior HR Partner Regional Consultant, HR Partner

A senior HR consultant for Willis Towers Watson, Daniel brings more than 15 years of experience in full-service HR consultation and direction to executives, managers and employees across multiple organizations. With his expertise in business process outsourcing, benefits administration, and system implementations, Daniel is a proactive business partner for his clients. In his free time, he enjoys coaching his son’s baseball team and attending his daughter’s tennis matches with his wife.

Topics: Trends, Regulatory, Family leave, Paid time off, Time off

The HR Trove by Willis Towers Watson

Written by The HR Trove by Willis Towers Watson

The HR Trove is an online store designed for HR Pros offering best-in-class advice, tips, tools and products from the HR experts.