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NYS Paid Sick Leave vs NYS Paid Family Leave

Written by Jeremy Higgins

On April 3, 2020, the New York State passed a new paid sick leave policy as part of the 2020-2021 state’s budget. This policy which took effect on September 30, 2020, provides for varying amounts of sick leave depending on the employer’s size and net income.  Besides, the employee can resume their job position and earn similar pay and employment conditions after the sick leave.

However, there is confusion between the NYS paid sick leave and the NYS  paid family leave(PFL), formally rolled out in 2018. The paid family leave allows qualified individuals to take paid time off to bond with a newly born child, care for a relative with a serious health condition or help a dependent preparing for an active military service deployment.

In this post, we’ll look at the general differences between the two leave policies.

1. Coverage

Sick Leave

The NYS paid sick leave covers eligible employees, together with their dependents.

Family Leave

The NYS Paid leave covers the dependents of the employees and not the employees themselves. It aims to allow the employee to take care of the newborn child, a relative with a serious illness, or prepare a dependent deployed abroad for military service.

2. Application Requirements

Sick Leave

Employees do not have to apply to use sick leave.

Family Leave

Employees have to apply to use PFL.

3. When to Use It?

Sick Leave

Employees can start using the paid sick leave immediately after accruing their first hour. Therefore, where an employer uses the accrual method, an employee can use their first hour of sick leave after 30 hours of work. On the other hand, an employee can use all the sick leave for the year in a single lump sum if an employer uses the front-loading method.

Family Leave

Currently, eligible employees can take a maximum of 12 weeks (effective January 1, 2021) of paid family leave for every 12-month period if they have been in employment for:

26 consecutive weeks (employees who regularly work for a minimum of 20 hours per week, or

175 total days (employees working for less than 20 hours per week)

The 12-month period begins after the employee’s approval for PFL.

4. How is it earned?

Sick Leave

Accrual Method

The employee accrues the unpaid or paid sick time over time where they earn an hour of unpaid/paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work.

Front-Load Method

An employer may decide to pay the employee’s sick leave time for the current year all at once, as from January 1, 2021.

During the 12 month period, the total amount of usable sick leave differs as follows:

Unpaid sick leave of 40 hours

Employers with a Maximum of 4 employees and earned a maximum of $1 Million in the past tax year.

Paid sick leave of 40 hours

Employers with a maximum of 4 employees and earned a maximum of $1 Million in the past tax year.

Paid sick leave of 40 hours

Employers with 5-99 employees irrespective of the earning

Paid sick leave of 56 hours

Employers with 100 or more employees irrespective of the earning

Family Leave

The NYS Paid family leave is an insurance that employers must obtain and either fund or pass the cost of funding to employees.

Employee Funded

The deductions begin from the date of hiring and appear on the employee’s regular paychecks. However, the employee will have to meet the required criteria to take advantage of the leave.

Employer Funded

The deductions do not appear on the employee’s paycheck, but they still have to meet the required criteria.

5. Who Pays Out the Benefits?

Sick Leave

It is the employers who manage and pays out NYS paid sick leave.

Family Leave

The insurance carrier that handles NYS paid family leave is responsible for paying out PFL all PFL claims.

6. Roll Over

Sick Leave

Unused sick leave can roll over to the next year. However, employers can restrict usage to 40 or 56 hours per year based on the employer size.

Family Leave

Unused paid family leave time cannot be rolled over, meaning an employee will lose any leftover once the 12-month period elapses. 

Unlike the NYS paid family leave policy that formally rolled out some about two years back, the NYS paid sick leave is less than a year since it took effect. However, employers must be ready to comply with the new policy; otherwise, failure to provide PSL according to the law may lead to penalties

Need help navigating sick and paid family leave? Contact us to get started today!

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