New York recently updated two significant aspects of its Paid Family Leave program: (1) expanding the definition of “family member” to include siblings and (2) increasing the cap on weekly benefits available.
Since its inception in 2018, Paid Family Leave has offered eligible employees the ability to take job protected, partially-paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious illness, or provide assistance when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty. In 2020, after years of gradual increases in the maximum amount of leave and benefits, eligible employees may use up to 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave per rolling 52-week period.
Caring for a Sibling Will Be Included
New York expanded the definition of “family member” in relation to Paid Family Leave to include siblings. Effective January 1, 2023, Senate Bill S2928A allows eligible employees to care for a sibling with a serious illness or medical condition. Previously, this option was only available when caring for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, or domestic partner. “Sibling” is defined as a biological or adopted sibling, a half-sibling or a step-sibling.
Increase to Maximum Weekly Benefits
Eligible employees who take Paid Family Leave are entitled to receive 67% of their weekly pay, or 67% of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (“SAWW”), whichever is less. For 2022, the SAWW has been set as $1,594.57, which caps the maximum weekly benefit available to New Yorkers at $1,068.36. This is approximately a 10% increase from last year.
Since Paid Family Leave is employee-funded, the employee payroll contribution has also been adjusted to reflect an increased maximum annual cap of $423.71. Employers should review their payroll practices to ensure the new employee contributions are properly reflected.
Alexandria Adkins, Law Clerk – Admission Pending (not admitted to the practice of law) in the firm’s New York office, contributed to the preparation of this post.