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PFML Alert: NY 2021 Changes and CO Ballot Measure

Two states and PFML programs to keep your eye on: New York and Colorado. New York announced its 2021 PFL premium and benefit increases. And Colorado residents will vote on a Paid Family and Medical Leave Initiative on Nov. 3, 2020. Here’s what you need to know about both states in the months ahead.

New York’s 2021 Benefit and Premium Increases

New York announced details for the fourth year of phased-in benefit increases under its landmark 2016 Paid Family Leave law. The state also announced an unprecedented increase of 89% for 2021 employee payroll contributions. Part of the reason for the big jump? A new risk adjustment levy for COVID-19 claims New York has paid under Chapter 25 of the laws of 2020.

Employees’ payroll contributions will increase from 0.270% to a total of 0.511% of wages each pay period. The maximum annual employee contribution will increase from $196.72 to $385.34.

The positive news? PFL benefits will increase to 67% of the employee’s average weekly wage, not to exceed 67% of the statewide average weekly wage. And employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of leave in 2021 — an extra two weeks. The maximum weekly benefit for 2021 will be $971.61. For a detailed comparison, check out the chart below.


2021 Changes to NY PFL20202021
Premium Rate0.270%0.506%
Risk Adjustment for COVID-19 claims paid
under Chapter 25 of the laws of 2020
      Total employee contribution
      per pay period
Maximum Annual Employee Contribution$196.72$385.34
     % Increase from 2020 +89%
NY Statewide Average Weekly Wage$1,401.17$1,450.17
Weekly Benefits
% of employee average weekly wage
Benefit Cap
% of NY SAWW
Maximum Weekly Benefit$840.70$971.61
Available Leave10 weeks12 weeks


Colorado’s Ballot Initiative #283 and Potential Program

Supporters in Colorado recently succeeded in getting the Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Initiative (#283) on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot. It exceeded the number of required signatures and was certified on August 25.

An effort to create a private-market solution through legislation was abandoned in May 2020, due to challenges presented by COVID-19.

If the current initiative becomes law, it will create a $1.3 billion state-run program. Key details include:

  • Funding: A 0.9% payroll tax split between employers and employees would fund the program. Beginning in 2025, it could be increased up to 1.2% of wages per employee.
  • Benefits: Up to 90% income replacement to a $1,100 week maximum, up to 12 weeks paid leave per year. Plus four more weeks for pregnancy or childbirth complications.
  • Timing: Premium collection would start Jan. 1, 2023. Covered individuals could begin taking paid leave and receive benefits starting Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Covered reasons for paid leave: The birth, fostering or adoption of a new child; one’s own serious health condition; caring for a family member with a serious health condition; military exigency and safe leave.
  • Family member definition: Under the proposed program, a covered employee could take paid leave to care for a broad range of family members and others in “family-like” relationships.
  • Private option: Employers will be able to opt out of the state-run plan by offering an approved, privately paid medical and family leave plan.

What’s Next for PFML?

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