New York State’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program in 2021

New York state’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) enters the final year of its four-year implementation starting on January 1, 2021. The program continues to be available to provide employees in New York State 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 called to active military service abroad. So, what’s different for New York state’s PFL program in 2021?

  • Increased duration – the maximum duration increases from 10 weeks (2020) to 12 weeks (2021).
  • Increased weekly benefit – employees will receive 67% of wages, capped at the state average weekly wage (SAWW) in 2021, up from 60% of wages in 2020. Note that the SAWW also increased from $1,401.17 (2020) to $1,450.17 (2021), which sets the maximum weekly benefit for 2021 at $971.61, for anyone earning roughly $75,000 or more annually.

Another, more significant, increase was in the amount paid toward the benefit, collected through employee payroll deductions and up about 89% from the previous year.  As a reminder, this amount is set annually by NYS and neither employee deductions, nor insurance premiums charged, can exceed the limit.

  • Increased premium rate – the premium rate increases from $.27/$100 of total weekly payroll (2020) to $.511/$100 of total weekly payroll (2021).
  • Increased maximum employee premium deduction – in 2020 payroll deductions were capped at an annual maximum of $196.72. In 2021, this amount increases to $385.34.

To help with estimates for both payroll deductions and weekly benefits for paid family leave in 2021, here are some resources from New York State:

As a final reminder, employees whose leave begins in 2020 and extends to the New Year are under the benefit rate in effect on the first day of leave, so, 10 weeks at 60% of wages.  Employees would need to return to work for a period of at least 3 months, or experience a separate qualified event, to be eligible for the additional 2 weeks.

Updates to Paid Family Leave (PFL) related to COVID-19

Back in April 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law guaranteeing workers both financial compensation and job projection in the event that they or their minor dependent child are under an order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. According to the state’s website, PFL may be available for use.

Rose & Kiernan, Inc. continues to monitor and advise on New York state’s PFL program. As always, we encourage all employers in New York state to review your PFL policies and practices to make sure that they are updated and compliant. Should you have any questions on this topic, reach out to us today.

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