The New York Paid Family Leave 2021 Act not only offers employees the right to take time off from their jobs to care for themselves or their loved ones, it actually offers benefits which increase every year. For example, the NYS Paid Family Leave 2021 Act, which became effective on January 1, 2021, now offers paid safe and sick leave of up to 12 weeks. The new law offers these benefits to workers who stay home to care for a new baby or family member with a bad health condition, or who must comply with an order relating to COVID-19. Thus New York law offers employees 67% of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum weekly benefit rate of $971.61.
This article explains the NYS Paid Family Leave 2021 Act and the NYC Paid Sick Leave Law. It explains when, since January 1, 2021, employees may take time off—and still be paid—when they are sick, care for a family member with a bad health condition, or when they or their family members must comply with orders relating to COVID-19.
This article also explains why it is critically important to hire a New York labor law attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in New York labor law. An employer may, for example, improperly refuse to provide the employee with the paid leave to which the employee is legally entitled. A good labor law attorney will make sure the employee is paid.
The NYC Paid Sick Leave Law is critically important for all New Yorkers. It offers workers paid leave. If stuck at home because they are sick, or are caring for family members with a bad health condition, employees can still get their pay. Further, workers need not worry: employers cannot fire workers who for these reasons stay home.
Paid Family Leave benefits, or PFL benefits, include:
To be eligible New York law requires employees to meet certain criteria. The law requires employees to satisfy different criteria if they are full-time or part-time employees:
Full-time employees. An employee must have worked 20 hours or more per week for 26 consecutive weeks.
Part-time employees. Employees who work less than 20 hours per week become eligible after they have worked 175 days. These weeks need not be consecutive.
Public and self-employed employees are only eligible for benefits if the employer has paid into a PFL benefits program.
According to the New York Paid Family Leave 2021 law, the more an employee works the more paid time off the employee earns. An employee earns one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.
The total number of hours an employee may earn depends on the employer’s size and, sometimes, on the amount of money the employer earns:
These rules are complex. An employer may not comply with the law either because it does not understand the law or because it decides not to comply with the New York law. Since either is very possible an employee should have an experienced New York unpaid wages lawyer in his or her corner, fighting to make sure the employee gets all the paid time off, and all the money, which New York law says the employee should get.
In April 2020 a new law, called Paid Sick Leave NYC, came into force. This new law grants paid safe and sick leave, or PFL benefits, to employees who must comply with COVID-19 rules. This new law requires employers to offer employees paid leave if the employee, or his or her dependent child, are, due to COVID-19, under orders to quarantine.
The number of new paid safe and sick leave days an employee may accrue depends on the size of his or her employer. The rules are the same as those listed under “Counting Employees and Accruals” above. Thus, for example, employers with 100 or more employees must provide each employee with up to 56 hours of safe and sick leave per year. The same rules continue for all four categories. Thus, again, businesses with five or fewer employees or a net income below one million dollars, must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.
However, employees will not be eligible for this paid safe and sick leave, or PFL benefit, if they:
Despite the exceptions listed above, an employee will still be eligible for paid safe and sick leave, or PFL benefits, if a doctor has ordered the employee to quarantine. To receive this PFL benefit the employee must first complete the employee sections of the form: “Request for COVID-19 Quarantine Leave for Yourself.” These include the forms: “Request for COVID-19 Quarantine DB/PFL-Self (Form SCOVID19) and “Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1)” The employee must mail the completed forms to his or her employer.
An employee is also entitled to paid safe and sick leave, or PFL benefits, if a doctor has ordered his or her dependent child to quarantine, and the employee must stay home to care for this child.
Since January 1, 2021 employees covered by the New York law, the NYS Paid Family Leave 2021 Act have been allowed to use the paid leave they have earned. On September 30, 2020, employees began to earn paid leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.
The NYS Paid Family Leave 2021 Act requires employers to:
Since January 1, 2021, the New York paid sick leave law requires employers to:
To qualify for PFL benefits relating to COVID-19 an employee must complete the form which is available at PaidFamilyLeave.ny.gov/COVID19. An employer’s insurance company may also have this form.
Only employees who a government entity has ordered to quarantine may claim benefits. The governmental entities who may order an employee to quarantine, and thus make the employee eligible for benefits, are the New York State Department of Health, local Boards of Health, and other government entities authorized to issue such an order.
An employee who must stay home to care for a child whose school has been closed by a government entity may also claim PFL benefits. However, if the child’s school has imposed social distancing rules, but has not closed, then the employee may not claim PFL benefits.
Employees who show no COVID-19 symptoms and are able to work remotely may not claim PFL benefits. In addition, employees who voluntarily travel to countries where the Centers for Disease Control believe there is a high risk of contracting COVID-19 are also not eligible for PFL benefits.
To receive PFL benefits an employee must complete the employee sections of the form: “Request for COVID-19 Quarantine Leave for Yourself.” This includes the “Request for COVID-19 Quarantine DB/PFL-Self (Form SCOVID19)” and “Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1)” forms. The employee must submit these forms to his or her employer.
After the employee gives these sections of the form to the employer, the employer must then, within three business days, complete the other sections of the form. The employer must then send the completed form to the employee. Even if the employer has not sent the completed form to the employee, the employee may still submit the form, even if it only contains the parts the employee has filled out, to the employer’s PFL insurance company. The employee must do this within 30 days of the employee’s first day of leave. The insurance company must then either pay or deny the claim within 18 days of receiving the form.
Filling out forms is complicated. It is time consuming, and employees can easily make mistakes. If an employee fills out a form improperly then an insurance company could very well deny an employee the benefits, and the money, to which the employee is entitled. To be sure the forms are filled out properly, and to be sure that employees gets every dollar they should, employees should have the guidance of an experienced New York labor law attorney. A New York labor law attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in New York labor law can make sure an employee is treated fairly, and is not discriminated against in any way.
A: Contact a labor law attorney right away. This lawyer will contact your employer on your behalf and then initiate the necessary court proceedings if need be.
A: An employer is prohibited from providing part-time employees with less safe and sick leave than a full-time employee.
A: No, an employee is not required to repay any benefits.
A: Yes, as long as the quarantine order was issued by the department of health, local board of health, or other government entity.
A: Yes. This also applies to employees who must stay home to care for children whose school has closed due to COVID-19. This also applies if a child must quarantine.
A: No, An employee is not eligible for NYS Family Medical Leave 2021 Act benefits if he or she traveled for non-business reasons to a country regarding which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a COVID-19 high-risk warning.
The NYS Paid Family Leave 2021 Act requires employees to comply with New York labor law. If an employee just thinks that an employer may be violating the NYS Paid Family Leave 2021 Act, the employee should contact a New York labor law attorney right away.
New York labor law is complex. And COVID-19 has, unfortunately, made this complex situation even more complex. A labor law attorney can help you get the benefits the NYS Paid Family Leave 2021 Act says you are entitled to.
The Law Office of Yuriy Moshes knows New York labor law. We have the knowledge and experience you need to get the benefits you deserve and are entitled to. Our office helps employees fight against harassment, national origin discrimination, and other violations of labor law. The office represents employees in the greater New York City area, including all five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island), Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York.