Statewide paid family leave becomes effective Jan. 1

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John Carberry

As of Jan. 1, 2018, employers in New York state will be required to offer paid leave for eligible staff members to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition or fulfill a qualifying military exigency. The New York State Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) program was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2016.

Eligibility

At Cornell, the leave is available to most endowed and contract college nonacademic staff members:

  • Employees who work 20 or more hours per week are eligible to request the leave after 26 weeks of employment.
  • Employees who work less than 20 hours per week are eligible to request the leave after 175 days worked (not consecutive days employed).

Academic faculty and staff are excluded by New York state statute from the program.

Benefit level

New York state’s timeline called for a phased rollout over four years, with the benefit level starting at 8 weeks, 50 percent pay in 2018, and reaching 12 weeks, 67 percent pay in 2021. Cornell will launch the program in January at the 2021 level.

Employees can supplement the 67 percent pay with the balances of their vacation or health and personal leave accruals in order to receive their full salary.

Cornell provides several kinds of leave to assist nonacademic staff in balancing the demands of the workplace, their individual needs and the needs of their families. “Providing leaves that allow our employees to respond to those demands and, in turn, be their best selves, continues to be a priority for us as a caring and leading-edge employer,” said Gordon Barger, senior director of benefit services and administration.

New York state specified that the paid family leave program be employee-funded, and that employers must collect an employee contribution through a payroll deduction determined annually by the New York State Department of Financial Services. In 2018, the rate will be 0.126 percent of an employee’s weekly wage, capped at $1.65 per week.

The state allowed employers to begin deductions as early as July 1, 2017. Cornell has chosen to begin deductions in mid-November, after an automatic enrollment process. Separately, qualified staff may submit a waiver request if they believe they will never be eligible for the plan.

“Though Cornell’s plan will be funded, in part, through payroll deductions, we anticipate that Cornell, and other employers, will be supplementing the expense of the benefit with other funds,” said Barger. “Also, it is likely that the state will continue to make adjustments to the plan as it rolls out. As their mandates change, we too will need to revisit our benefit offering.”

Guideline and regulation clarification are ongoing from the state. Benefit Services will share additional information as details become available. Contact your HR representative with questions. General NYFPL information is posted on the NY.gov website.

Ashley Fazio is director of communications in the Division of the Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer.


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Nancy Doolittle