What Can PFL Be Used For?

The key differentiator between PFL and DBL is that DBL is taken for your employees’ OWN non-occupational injury or illness, while PFL is taken to care for someone else – there are 3 main categories of qualifying events for which employees can take paid leave:

  • Providing care for a family member with a serious health condition
    • The common cold or taking off for general doctor visits don’t qualify – the person being cared for must meet definition of a “serious health condition”.
  • Bonding leave after giving birth, adoption, or welcoming a child into foster care
    • An employee may seek family leave benefits during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement even if that event occurred in 2017.
    • An employee may take paid leave even for events leading up to adoption, such as travel to another country to complete an adoption.
  • Qualifying military exigency
    • An employee can take paid leave if their family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or to active duty.



Paid Family Leave brings new obligations and compliance considerations to your business. Here are the top 10 things to keep in mind:

  1. If you have to provide DBL, you have to provide PFL.
  2. All employees who are currently covered under DBL will be covered under (and thereby have the right to take) Paid Family Leave effective 01/01/2018. Be ready for the fact that some employees could be out as early as the very first day of next year!
  3. Paid Family Leave benefits phase in over 4 years with gradually increasing benefit amount and duration, so you will need to stay on top of annual changes to the maximum benefits.
  4. Employees will need to give 30 days’ notice for foreseeable leave . This means, you could start receiving notices by 12/01 of this year.
  5. You must add PFL to your written guidance for employees concerning employee benefits & leave rights, such as in an employee handbook.
    PFL Expert 
    Tip:  Even if you don’t have written manuals now, you will have to create written guidance on Paid Family Leave, including information on how to file a claim for paid family leave!
  6. Just like with DBL, you will have to display and keep posted a printed notice concerning Paid Family Leave as published by NY State later this year.
  7. PFL provides job security for employees out on paid leave, similar to unpaid leave under FMLA, but regardless of the size of the employer.
  8. If you decline to reinstate an employee returning from PFL, the employee may report your business to NY State. You then have 30 days to either take corrective action or file a formal response to the employee.
  9. You cannot require employees to exhaust their accumulated PTO before letting them go out on paid family leave.
  10. You can start taking payroll deductions starting July 1, 2017. Details on early deductions and maximum contributions are in the next section.

3 Things You Can do now to prepare:


  1. Since the Paid Family Leave rate is based on each employee’s wage/salary, this may add to the complexity of your current payroll tracking/administration. 
    PFL Expert TIP: Start looking for solutions to reduce the added burden.
  2. Since paid leave can be taken in daily increments/ intermittent intervals (such as every other Monday), absence management may become more complex. This may be overwhelming for employers who are not subject to FMLA, as FMLA already requires granular absence management capabilities.   
    PFL Expert TIP: Start looking into solutions to keep track of intermittent leave efficiently.
  3.  There’s a good chance you could have one or more of your employees taking PFL in 2018 – maybe even as early as January 1.  Do you have a staffing plan to cover their workload(s)? 
    PFL Expert TIP: Plan now to avoid staffing gaps in 2018. Whether it means cross-training your team in different roles or looking into short-term staffing solutions from temp agencies.

How much does it cost? how do deductions work?


The Paid Family Leave rate is set by New York State and can be adjusted on an annual basis effective every January 1. The 2018 rate had to be set by June 1, 2017. Thereafter, updated rates are set and announced by NY State by September 1 of each year for the following calendar year.

There is no fixed rate as it is based on the employee’s salary. The 2018* maximum weekly contribution for Paid Family Leave is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage capped at current NYSAWW of $1,305.92.**

 This translates into a 2018 maximum contribution of $1.65/week for employees earning NYSAWW or above .

 *The rate is set by NY State and can be adjusted on an annual basis effective January 1. The 2018 rate had to be set by June 1, 2017. Thereafter, updated rates are set and announced by NY State by September 1 of each year for the following calendar year.
**NY Department of Labor releases the updated NYSAWW every March 31.

Top 10 things to know about payroll deductions and premium

  1. You don’t have to start July 1, this is just the earliest date you’re allowed to start.
  2. Just note that if you start later than January 1, 2018, you can’t retroactively collect payroll deductions for Paid Family Leave (for example, if you miss implementing withholdings for January 2018, you can’t take a catch-up contribution in February)
  3. While PFL is frequently referred to as an employee-funded benefit in the law, you’re not required to withhold – you can choose to pay the cost for your employees.
  4. If you decide to take deductions from your employees, the deduction can’t exceed each employee’s maximum contribution (see chart above for examples). If you do, you will have to return the excess amount to your employees.
  5. You don’t have to refund early PFL deductions taken out from an employee’s paycheck if they leave your company before January 2018.
  6. Once we enter 2018, Paid Family Leave premium applies from time of hire. If you plan on deducting contributions, you may want to start those at time of hire to line up with when that new employee would be counted for premium purposes.
  7. You must pay the premium for your entire group whether you withhold from employees or not.
  8. If you’re securing coverage through an insurance carrier, both DBL and PFL must be issued by the same insurance company.
  9. The maximum contribution may change every year.
  10. While you can choose to collect DBL and PFL employee contributions from an employee who is out on DBL or PFL, you cannot collect Paid Family Leave contributions for an employee who is not yet eligible for PFL while that employee is out on DBL.


Learn more about deductions, contributions, and early deductions here.




PFL and other benefits 

FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)
Paid Family Leave is set to enter a space occupied by other regulations, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) most notably. And while the two are intended to provide some of the same protections, Paid Family Leave takes the basic concept behind FMLA farther.

If you employ 50 or more employees, you must coordinate PFL with FMLA and notify an employee taking leave. So where does FMLA end and Paid Family Leave begin? We’ve illustrated the biggest differences and similarities in an in-depth visual guide that’s worth bookmarking, sharing, or hanging up on your wall.

DBL (NY’s statutory short-term disability)
Employees can’t take DBL and PFL at the same time, i.e., receive benefits for both concurrently. They have to be taken in sequence. And if an employee qualifies for both (such as post-partum recovery and bonding with a new baby), the combined duration cannot exceed 26 weeks in a consecutive 52-week period.

Need more details on how DBL and PFL relate and compare? Go here for the in-depth scoop.

Other Benefits
As for other benefits, you are required to maintain an employee’s health care coverage as though they were not on leave – at the same coverage level and contribution.


Pending PFL Regulations

Of the world’s 185 developed countries, the United States stands alone as the only industrialized nation that doesn’t provide some form of paid family leave for its citizens.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Paid Family Leave legislation that passed in 2016. This makes New York one of few states (following California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) to pass Paid Family Leave legislation.

With regulations released by the State of New York, insurance carriers, employers, and brokers all need to gear up and implement PFL capabilities before the phase-in of PFL begins in January 2018. 

We’re ready – are you ready?

Come back frequently to stay in the know as we release more details on Paid Family Leave administration in the next weeks and months to come.

Visit our blog for the most current updates. 

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Latest Resources

How To Calculate PFL Benefits in 2018

Stephanie Haber 0 2037 Article rating: No rating

PFL family
January 16, 2018 – Knowing how much time an employee can take with Paid Family Leave can seem tricky.  But now that Paid Family Leave is officially live in New York, employees are trying to figure out just how much...


ShelterPoint & PFL

After Paid Family Leave (PFL) was announced in 2016, ShelterPoint created a dedicated PFL team. Their goal? Ensure a successful transition to Paid Family Leave for everyone involved — from policyholders to claimants to brokers. ShelterPoint is committed to being the timely, accurate resource for all PFL-related questions and information as the details continue to unfold. As the industry leader in DBL, ShelterPoint is ready to be the industry leader for Paid Family Leave as well.


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