Starting January 1: New York’s Paid Family Leave Law will help families and caregivers

Caregivers who struggle to balance their jobs while caring for older or ill family members or newborns, or have added responsibilities due to a family member’s military deployment will have added security and financial support with New York State’s Paid Family Leave, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018.  

Most private-sector workers in the state will be able to take up to eight weeks of paid leave and will receive half of their average annual earnings up to a cap. By 2021, when the benefit is fully phased in, workers will be allowed to take up to 12 weeks of leave at two-thirds of their wage up to the statewide cap. An employee does not have to use earned vacation and sick time prior to taking paid family leave.

If possible, an employee should provide advance notice to an employer of the need for paid family leave such as when a family is expecting a baby. However, as caregivers for older and sick persons know, a family health emergency can strike and there is an immediate need for time off.

This law is of particular benefit to older persons and their caregivers since some employers have given time off for maternity and paternity leave, but not for caring for sick or elderly relatives. Traditionally, women have been the ones at home providing care for newborns and also for older parents or relatives; with paid leave, supporters believe that more men will be able to provide care in the future.

The program is paid through small weekly deductions from employee paychecks (0.126 percent per week up to a maximum of $1.65 per week). The paid-family-leave insurance program pays for the leave benefit, not the employer. The employee’s health insurance is not affected. The employer is also free to use the leave worker’s wages to cover overtime costs or for temporary help.

For more details about the rules of the program, regarding which relatives are covered for leave time, what documentation is needed from doctors, etc., you can visit the program’s website at Locally, Community Caregivers’ staff can offer information and assistance to those who may be interested in learning more about the law and how it possibly can work for their families.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New  Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit or call us at (518) 456-2898.

Editor’s note: Michael Burgess is a health policy consultant for Community Caregivers Inc.