With less than six months to prepare for the launch of Paid Family Leave, it's time for employers to start updating their benefits communications and key materials like employee handbooks. Employers will also want to plan to coordinate with the Family Medical Leave Act. It's important to understand how the two laws differ and where they may overlap. Review the tips below now, and check our website often for more updates and best practices.
1. Review these Communication Requirements for Paid Family Leave and create or update materials.
- Prior to Jan. 1, 2018, employers will need to update their employee handbook policy concerning leaves and benefits to include information regarding PFL. If no applicable policy exists, provide employees with separate written guidance regarding PFL.
- Prior to Jan. 1, 2018, employers will also be required to post a notice regarding PFL in the workplace. The Standard will provide this notice for our eligible customers.
- Like FMLA, employees will not be required to specifically request PFL. Under the regulations, an employee must only provide notice sufficient to make the employer aware of a qualifying event. This notice triggers an obligation for the employer to begin a leave request form and provide it to the employee.
2. Coordinate Paid Family Leave benefits with FMLA.
- An insurance carrier's or the state's acceptance of a claim for PFL benefits does not automatically cause FMLA leave to run concurrently even if the leave is covered under both laws. Employers will still need to designate FMLA leave by providing notice required under the federal FMLA regulations.
- The eligibility requirements for FMLA and PFL do not fully align. Employees may become eligible for PFL earlier in their tenure than FMLA — typically at 26 weeks versus FMLA's 12 months. Further, the circumstances under which PFL can be taken are broader than FMLA. For example, employees may use PFL to care for a grandparent or grandchild, but may not use FMLA for that purpose.
- The proposed regulations for PFL do not include a key employee exception like FMLA. No matter the size of the employer or the role played by the employee, once Paid Family Leave is approved, the employer must grant it and guarantee reinstatement at the conclusion of the leave.
- As with FMLA, PFL is job-protected leave. An employee who takes approved PFL must be reinstated to his or her original position upon return to work, or reinstated to a comparable position with equal pay, benefits and other terms of employment. Also, group health plan benefits must be maintained by the employer for the duration of an employee’s PFL as if the employee had continued to work. Further, employees may not lose any benefits accrued during employment prior to taking family leave.
3. Learn what The Standard is doing to help our customers prepare for Paid Family Leave.
The Standard intends to offer a New York Paid Family Leave solution for our eligible customers with DBL coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
* This is not a comprehensive list. The description provided is an overview and intended for informational purposes only. Information may change. This information does not provide legal advice or a legal opinion. You are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and any specific questions you may have regarding your obligations under the new Act. The Standard assumes no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the use, misuse, interpretation or application of any information supplied in this document.