2021 Leave Changes

The new year brings new changes to New York State Paid Family Leave – increased benefits and two more weeks of leave. Starting January 1, 2021, employees will be eligible for twelve weeks of Paid Family Leave at 67% of their average weekly wage. Paid Family leave was first implemented on January 1, 2018 with a four-year phase in process and going into 2021, it will have reached the final phase in terms of leave duration.

As we head into 2021, there are further changes regarding paid leave. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, the New York Labor Law was amended requiring all employers to provide unpaid or paid sick leave to their employees. On September 30, 2020, covered employees in New York State began to accrue leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. If elected, Employers have the option to frontload the leave instead. On January 1, 2021, employees may start using accrued leave.

This new paid sick leave is separate from the COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave. On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed emergency legislation guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined due to COVID-19. The amount of COVID-19 sick leave required is dependent on the size of the employer. This legislation does not have an end date and will continue into 2021.

Earlier in the year, there was also Federal legislation passed regarding COVID-19 with the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This legislation included provisions for Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions applies to employers with 500 or fewer employees and is effective from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This legislation will expire on January 1, 2021; however, there is a provision in the recent stimulus bill language allowing covered employers to voluntarily elect to extend the FFCRA benefits through March 31, 2021. Employers will continue to be able to take advantage of tax credits available.

With the vast amount of leave laws and regulations in place, please feel free to contact your Crown Risk representative if you have any questions.