Sheila McGarrigle

A Journey Through PFL: Part 4

October 9, 2018

PFL Couple Newborn

After much anticipation (both with her colleagues at work and with her husband and family), Stephanie had her baby!

Olivia Rose was born Tuesday, May 8 at 7:44 PM. She weighed in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces.

We’re thrilled to welcome Olivia into the world!

PFL mother newborn

If you’re just tuning in to our series, we’ve been following Stephanie, an employee at ShelterPoint and first-time mother, who has since taken Paid Family Leave (PFL) to bond with her new baby. Throughout her pregnancy, Steph revealed steps employees can take to get started with PFL, as well as how PFL has benefited her and her family. Click here to start at the beginning of her story.

When we last left her, Stephanie was anticipating the big day, and working with her team to ensure a smooth transition to her leave.  She’d documented processes, updated certain training manuals, and made sure that—as much as possible—her team would know where to find anything they needed. All in all, they were on track for a good hand off.

And yet, despite all the effort to be ready, Olivia had her own plans: she arrived 3.5 weeks ahead of her due date.

The Friday before Olivia was born, Stephanie worked at a conference for the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), where she spent the whole day on her feet talking about ShelterPoint and Paid Family Leave. She rested up that weekend, and the following Monday, went to a routine checkup appointment.  After the exam, her doctor let her know that she might want to make sure her hospital bag was packed. Much to Stephanie’s surprise her water broke that next morning, and Olivia was born in the evening!

Even though this came as a big surprise, Stephanie was actually prepared. She often jokes that “she was at her own baby shower,” meaning that she, too, was born early—5 weeks, to be exact—so that her mom was able to bring her to the baby shower! Throughout her pregnancy, she had a suspicion that Olivia would arrive early, too.

With this little tidbit of insight, Stephanie and her co-workers had made sure to try and complete as much of the transition as early as possible. As a result they ensured that the handoff was nearly complete by the time Olivia surprised them by showing up early.

Her husband, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as prepared for an early delivery. He had to spend a few hours at the hospital closing out some loose ends for work.

But for Stephanie, because of her foresight and her team’s work transitioning a little early, she was free to focus on giving birth and spending her first days with her new baby.

And that freedom was a godsend. The first days—and first couple weeks—“were all a blur,” she told us. There’s so much to learn when you have your first child. “You can read, and prepare the best you can, but until you’re in the thick of it you just don’t know all that’s involved.”  The baby’s sleeping schedule, her eating schedule. The parents have to completely give up their own routines. “Becoming a mother is the hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,­”  Stephanie added.

After settling in to home life with the new little bundle, a flurry of family and friends stopped in, to welcome the baby. But, those first few days Stephanie and her husband really leaned on their own parents.  “I don’t know what we would have done without them,” said Stephanie. 

Despite all the hubbub of a new baby at home, there was still paperwork to hand in.  Though her PFL application was due to her PFL insurance carrier within 30 days of starting her PFL leave, she had a bit of time for that because she decided to take DBL (NY’s statutory short-term disability) time first.  DBL is considered “pregnancy disability leave” and, in Steph’s case, provided her with 6 weeks of leave.  You can read more about how DBL and PFL go hand-in-hand here.

“For DBL and PFL it’s two different sets of claim forms, with different sets of requirements, and they each need to be filed at different points in time,” Stephanie explained, “so, since I wasn’t starting my PFL right away, I knew I needed to just focus on getting the DBL paperwork submitted.” In addition to completing DBL forms herself, she needed her doctor to sign off as well. One important piece of advice Stephanie had to offer was that while she had control of how quickly she completed her end of the paperwork, she didn’t have quite as much control over how quickly her doctor turned around theirs. She told us it took about two weeks and a few follow-up calls to get her doctor to contribute their piece. Her advice? “Don’t wait to bring in or send the DBL claim form to your doctor.”

“I had always planned on taking my DBL time off first, then transitioning over to PFL,” said Stephanie.  “But, I’m also living proof of why you really shouldn’t submit your PFL paperwork too early.”  Not only did Olivia arrive early, but Stephanie also changed her mind about how she planned on using her PFL bonding time.  Originally, she would use half now, and half a little closer to Olivia’s first birthday.  But, instead, Stephanie decided to take all 8 weeks of PFL available to her directly following her 6 weeks of DBL time – giving her 14 weeks of time off in total.   “I had to laugh a bit to myself when this all came up because I remembered so vividly when we were writing this resource article on how it’s actually counterproductive to file your claim before you start leave,” Steph added.

You also have the best chance of having a smooth claims process if you wait until you have all the different pieces required before you submit your PFL claim to your insurance carrier.  Another piece of wisdom Steph shared was “it’s not like you walk out of the hospital with a baby and their birth certificate, which is required documentation for a PFL bonding leave claim.  It didn’t arrive in the mail until about a month after Olivia was born.”  It’s important to note that your insurance carrier cannot make a determination on your claim until all the required information is received.  You can read more about that here.  

SIGN-UP  for updates as Stephanie shares her experience while on leave, continuing her journey through PFL!

 

PFL Tips for After You’ve Given Birth

Once you’re ready to start your PFL for bonding leave, you’ll need to submit the following to your PFL insurance carrier within 30 days after your actual bonding leave begins, not 30 days after you give birth (so, in Stephanie’s case, bonding leave began 6 weeks after baby was born, which means that’s when her 30-day window started):

  • PFL-1:  Part A is completed by you, and Part B is completed by your employer (they must complete their section and return it to you within 3 business days)
  • PFL-2 (Bonding certification) is completed by you
  • Supporting documentation proving the relationship between you and child, such as the birth certificate. Form PFL-2 has a checklist to help you identify what exact documentation is needed for your specific bonding situation
  • It’s your responsibility to submit all the necessary forms and documentation to your PFL insurance carrier.  They should be completed (except, of course, for the portion your insurance carrier will complete) and submitted all together at once. This will help make your claim process as smooth as possible.
  • Once your carrier has received your fully completed package, they have 18 days after receipt to make a PFL eligibility determination.
  • Don’t forget, since bonding leave is foreseeable, you will also need to provide 30-days notice to your employer before your bonding leave begins.

 

Are you a soon-to-be mom? Get Paid Family Leave tips for any stage of your Pregnancy journey with this PFL expecting moms infographic  downloadable infographic here!

To read about the next step in Steph's journey, please click here for Part 5.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal counsel. Please consult with an appropriate professional for legal and compliance advice. Any PFL information is as of the blog post’s date stamp; it is based on the applicable statutes and regulation,  and may change as regulations evolve or NY State issues guidance regarding Paid Family Leave regulations. Have more questions? Email us at pflquestions@shelterpoint.com

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