On November 1, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill to expand New York's Paid Family Leave Law to cover paid time off to care for siblings. The bill, Legislation S.2928-A/A.06098-A, does not go into effect until January 1, 2023. Nevertheless, employers should begin preparing for compliance with the updated law as the new year will be upon us very soon.
The Paid Family Leave Law, which has been in effect since 2018, allows workers to take paid time off to raise a child and care for family members with compensation and without fear of losing their job. Already widely regarded as one of the most progressive and thorough paid family leave laws in the country, this law will now enable employees who take time off to care for siblings to be eligible for paid family leave. The impetus for this amendment is the pandemic, which has highlighted the difficulties of family illness and signaled a need to make more individual caretakers eligible for paid leave.
Previously, this statute required paid family leave for care of "family members," defined as spouses and domestic partners, parents and in-laws, children and step-children, grandparents, and grandchildren, who suffer from a "serious health condition" (which includes severe cases of COVID-19). Additionally, there is eligibility for time off to bond with new children (newborn and newly adopted or fostered), to help loved ones affected by a family member's military deployment, and, in certain situations, when the individual or their minor child are under COVID-19 quarantine.
Those eligible for paid family leave may take 12 weeks off from work to care for, bond with, or assist a loved one while earning 67% of their pay (which is capped). Now, per the new law, time off to care for siblings - including biological, adopted, half, and step-siblings – is also required. Moreover, that mandate includes care for family members with serious health conditions who live outside of New York State or the United States.
Employers should revisit their paid family leave policies as set forth in employee handbooks and elsewhere, and train human resource personnel and any other employees who administer family leave policies about the changes in this law to avoid potential violations.
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