Stephanie Haber
/ Categories: Brokers, Employers, Employees

PFL for Bonding

October 11, 2017

PFL Bonding

Paid Family Leave Qualifying Events: Bonding

Starting in January 2018, Paid Family Leave (PFL) will take effect for New York employees. So if you need to care for a seriously ill family member, prepare for a family member to be called to active military duty, or bond with your new child, you can now receive partially-paid time off and job protection for qualifying events.

Expectant parents across the state will soon be able to breathe easier as they look forward to a brand new chapter in their lives.

But how does PFL help benefit new and expecting parents? We’ve pulled together everything you need to know about the benefits of bonding under Paid Family Leave.

 

Time Off and Benefits for Bonding Events
Paid Family Leave will provide both parents with up to 50% of your salary, capped at 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW*), for up to 8 weeks of leave during a 52-week period in 2018. It will increase each year until it hits the maximum of 67% of your salary, capped at 67% of the NYSAWW*, and 12 weeks of leave time in 2021. This is provided that both parents work for different employers. If you both happen to work for the same employer, that employer may mandate that only one parent can take PFL at a time for bonding. If you fall into this category, we recommend reaching out to your employer directly to learn how they handle these particular situations.

*Current NYSAWW is $ 1,305.92 as of March 31, 2017. NY Department of Labor releases the updated NYSAWW every March 31.)

You can see the schedule below:

                                                                                      Maximum Benefit Amount

Benefit Stage Effective Date*

Maximum Length of Paid Leave**

Payable % of Employee’s Average Weekly Wage (AWW)

To the Maximum % of NY Average Weekly Wage (NY AWW)

$ Max based on current NY AWW of $1,305.92***

01/01/18

8 weeks

50%

50%

$653

01/01/19

10 weeks

55%

55%

$718

01/01/20

10 weeks

60%

60%

$784

01/01/21

12 weeks

67%

67%

$875

This chart is for leave taken in weekly increments. Leave taken in daily increments is based on the average number of days worked per week during the last 8 weeks before taking leave.
*While this is the anticipated schedule, New York State may delay implementation at its discretion.
**NY Department of Labor releases the updated statewide AWW every March 31.



Taking PFL for Bonding: Eligibility
Starting in just a few months, eligible moms and dads will be entitled to take leave any time in the consecutive 52 weeks following the birth of a child. If you adopt or have a foster child placed with you, this 52-week period begins on the day of placement, or the first day of Paid Family Leave taken. Beginning in 2018, Paid Family Leave will provide bonding leave for BOTH eligible parents for:

  • Bonding with a newborn child after birth
  • Adopting or fostering a child, which can include work absences related to the adoption or fostering process (such as travel, court appearances, counseling, etc.)
     

Paid Family Leave bonding benefits are unique in that they retroactively help children born, adopted, or fostered in 2017. Beginning in January 2018, both parents may be able to take up to a maximum of eight weeks of partially-paid time off to bond with a child that joined your family in 2017. The time allowed depends on when the child was born, or adopted — you can take up to 8 weeks from January 1, 2018, until your baby’s 1st birthday, or 1 year anniversary of the adoption/fostering event.

Here are two of examples:

  • If you or your partner gave birth to a child on March 1, 2017, both of you would qualify for a full 8 weeks of leave beginning January 1, 2018, since the child was born more than 8 weeks into the year — assuming you have not used paid time off for any other PFL qualifying events.  If you didn’t start taking leave until February 1st, 2018, you would only have 4 weeks of leave because Paid Family Leave entitlement expires 1 year after the baby was born.
  • If you or your partner gave birth early in the year, say January 17, both of you would only be able to take up to 15 days of paid time off under Paid Family Leave.

 

The same rules apply for children placed through adoption or foster care. If the child joined your family any time after March 2017, you would be able to take the full 8 weeks to bond in 2018. However, if you take PFL for early adoption-related events before the actual adoption date, your 52-week clock for paid family benefits starts ticking on the first day of leave taken. In other words, your entitlement to paid family leave for adoption expires at the end of the consecutive 52-week period beginning on the date of the placement or first day of leave taken, whichever is earlier.

Because there are many steps involved with fostering and adopting children, Paid Family Leave allows you to take time prior to the child joining your family for a variety of process-related things, including:

  • Counseling sessions
  • Court appearances
  • Consulting with doctors or attorneys representing the birth parents
  • Physical examinations
  • Traveling for the adoption

 

Paid Family Leave allows you to take the time you need, when you need it, to bond with your child, no matter how he or she comes into your life.

With Paid Family Leave as a job protection benefit, eligible employees will be able to return to their positions — or one comparable in pay and benefits — after taking PFL. Paid Family Leave also protects health insurance during leave, mandating that employers continue coverage as though the employee was still working as usual.
 

PFL vs. DBL — What’s Covered Under Each
Expecting moms can use both NY statutory DBL for pregnancy-related time off and PFL for bonding thereafter, but they cannot be used at the same time. However, they have to be taken consecutively. For example, if your doctor recommends bed rest during a portion of your pregnancy, you can use DBL for that because DBL provides benefits if you can’t work due to your own health condition. After the baby has been born, you can switch to Paid Family Leave to spend time bonding with your new baby — as long as the combination of both DBL and PFL does not exceed 26 weeks in a 52-week period.  It is up to you whether you want to take DBL first and then transition to PFL.  Or, if you prefer, you can skip DBL and only use your PFL time.

Since Paid Family Leave can’t be used for yourself, PFL does not cover prenatal conditions resulting from a pregnancy such as bed rest or post-partum depression.

For example, should you suffer from postpartum depression or require surgery after giving birth, you can use DBL time since this is for your personal condition. You could then change to PFL to bond with your child after recovery, starting from the time when you stop your DBL benefits.

If your employer has 50+ employees, they are also subject to FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), which provides 12 weeks of unpaid time off and job protection. In these situations, Paid Family Leave and FMLA benefits must be coordinated.  

 

How to Take Paid Family Leave
Step 1 - Notify your Employer

Plan on telling your employer at least 30 days before you anticipate needing to be out and needing Paid Family Leave benefits.  If something unforeseeable happens, Paid Family Leave requires you to provide your employer notice “as soon as practicable,” meaning either the same day, or the next business day you learn you need to take PFL.

When notifying your employer, make sure you include:

  • The type of event you’re using PFL for — such as bonding with a new child
  • When you expect to start your leave
  • The amount of time you anticipate taking

If you notify your employer in writing, you have an official record and can ensure your employer is fully aware of the situation. Your employer cannot reject your chosen (or in case of an emergency, required) PFL time and schedule as long as it is for a qualifying event and you have the amount of paid leave time left in your annual “PFL time bank.”

Notifying your employer does not mean you are submitting a claim yet to receive any benefits.  

Step 2 - Submit your Claim
The responsibility for applying for Paid Family Leave benefits rests with you: As you will be in charge of collecting all the necessary documentation and paperwork, getting required signatures from your employer, and submitting your claim in order to take PFL for a bonding event and to receive benefit payments from your insurance carrier for it.

We anticipate a main claim form, accompanied by a bonding-leave-specific supplemental form — both of which will be released by NY State later this year. You will also need to submit the following supporting documentation based on the type of bonding event:

  • Obtain the Request for Paid Family Leave Form, which will be available soon.
  • Collect any relevant supporting documentation — such as:
    • Birth certificates
    • Pregnancy-related paperwork from your healthcare provider
    • For adoptions and foster care situations, legal evidence of the process
    • Additionally, for fostering, you’ll need the letter of placement
  • We strongly recommend making copies of all documentation you submit with your claim for your own records, should anything need to be verified or confirmed

Once your claim and supplementary documentation is filed, you can expect to be paid within 18 days of filing a complete claim. Benefits will be paid by the insurance carrier to the employee within 18 days of filing a completed claim. If any information is missing or incomplete, your claim may be delayed until all required information is accounted for.

There is no waiting period for Paid Family Leave — as is often the case with disability benefits like DBL — which means the first day of your leave qualifies for benefits.

 

Using Intermittent Leave for Bonding
PFL is designed to be flexible to help you and your specific needs. You can take PFL in increments as small as one full day, and you don’t have to take the full amount in one stretch. So if you have childcare arranged Tuesday-Friday, it would be possible for you to plan on taking every Monday off during the eligible 12-month period for PFL. If you do plan on taking intermittent leave like this, it’s a good idea to provide repeat notice to your employer so everyone is aware of your PFL schedule and can plan accordingly.
 


Other Things to Know
You are not required to use any of your accrued vacation or sick time for your bonding Paid Family Leave time (unless it’s an FMLA approved leave). You can choose to use vacation or sick time in order to continue earning your full salary. In this case, PFL would only provide the job protection benefit, since you can’t collect PTO and cash PFL benefits at the same time.

If you work two jobs and meet the eligibility and qualification requirements for both, you can choose to take Paid Family Leave from one or both employers. If you do decide to take PFL from two employers at the same time, for the same event (like bonding with your new child, for instance), you may receive 50% of your average weekly wage, capped at 50% of NYS AWW for BOTH jobs.

Growing your family is a turning point for anyone. Whether you’re giving birth to your own, adopting one, or fostering a child, you deserve to take worry-free time to bond with that child. Paid Family Leave was designed to make life easier for new parents by providing time, resources, money, and protection to take that time. This is a big part of what drives ShelterPoint as well. We understand that there are a great deal of details associated with Paid Family Leave — so if you have any questions about taking bonding time off with PFL, or about the other qualifying events, ask us at pflquestions@shelterpoint.com.

 


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. Got more questions? Email us at pflquestions@shelterpoint.com

Previous Article PFL for Caregiving
Next Article 5 Things Every Business Needs to Know about PFL
Print
1714 Rate this article:
No rating

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x

Get the latest Paid Family Leave New York updates delivered to your inbox!