Policy Number: 509Responsible Office: HR/Employee BenefitsEffective Date: 1/1/18Revised: 2/3/19
Overview of PFL
Effective January 1, 2018, the University will provide its employees working in New York with paid leave benefits and job protection in accordance with the New York State Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (“PFL”). PFL is designed to enable eligible employees to have time away from work for any of the following reasons:
PFL coverage is provided to eligible employees by the University through an insurance carrier.
PFL is not available for the employee’s own disability or serious health condition; however, disability, FMLA or a non-FMLA medical leave may be available in those circumstances. Please see the University’s Short-Term Disability, FMLA and other medical leave policies for additional information.
Note: Time spent on paid time off (e.g., vacation and sick time) will count towards an employee’s eligibility determination if deductions were taken during that period of paid time off. Time that an employee spends on New York State Disability Leave or unpaid leave will not be counted towards an employee’s eligibility determination.
Employees shall be provided the option to file a waiver of PFL benefits if:
If an employee elects to waive PFL coverage, the University will not take PFL payroll deductions from that employee. However, if an employee elects to waive PFL coverage and his/her regular schedule changes such that he/she works for either 26 consecutive weeks or 175 days in in a consecutive 52-week period, the employee’s waiver will be automatically revoked under the law. When such a waiver is revoked the University will notify the employee regarding his/her contribution obligations. Thereafter, the University may begin taking PFL payroll deductions from the employee, including any retroactive amounts from the employee’s date of hire or the amount necessary to prevent the University from having to pay the applicable PFL insurance premium.
New York State has instructed that benefits phase in over four years, as follows:
Weeks of Leave
50% of employee average weekly wage (up to 50% of the NYS average weekly wage
55% of employee average weekly wage (up to 55% of the NYS average weekly wage)
60% of employee average weekly wage (up to 60% of the NYS average weekly wage)
67% of employee average weekly wage (up to 67% of the NYS average weekly wage)
Employees may take the maximum benefit length (see “weeks of leave” in the above chart) in any given 52-week period. The 52-week period is calculated by measuring backwards from each day for which PFL is taken (Example: If an employee uses all 8 weeks of PFL in May and June of 2018 and then has another qualifying event prior to May 2019, the employee may be eligible for up to two weeks of additional leave. The maximum amount of leave in 2019 is 10 weeks in a 52 week period).
Leave must be taken in full-day increments. Leave benefits continue after the close of the calendar year (Example: If an employee commences a leave in 2018, the 2018 benefit amounts will continue to apply if the leave carries over into 2019). If, however, more than three months passes between days of PFL your next day or period of PFL is considered a new claim under the law and subject to the current year benefits.
The University will not permit more than one employee to use PFL to care for the same family member at the same time.
Example: If both spouses work for the University, the University may deny PFL to one spouse if both employees have requested to take PFL during the same period of time to bond with the same child. However, both spouses could take PFL at different times to bond with the same child.
Employees may not use vacation or sick time to supplement the PFL benefit.
Employees who are covered under a University-provided group medical plan will continue to be covered under the plan for the duration of the leave period. Employees are responsible for continuing to pay their health insurance premiums during the period of leave. If payment is more than 30 days late, the employee’s health insurance coverage may be dropped for the duration of PFL. The University will provide 15 days’ notice prior to terminating coverage.
Employees who are eligible for New York State statutory disability benefits may receive only a combined amount of 26 weeks of disability benefits and PFL benefits in a 52-consecutive calendar week period.
PFL will run concurrently with leave under the FMLA where the reason for leave qualifies under both PFL and FMLA. In these cases, employees will be required to comply with all applicable employee requirements (e.g., application, certification, notice, etc.) under both policies. Accordingly, employees should also review and refer to the University’s FMLA Policy. If an employee’s leave qualifies under both PFL and FMLA, but the employee declines to apply for PFL benefits, any leave taken by the employee for such reason will be counted against the employee’s PFL allotment.
PFL may be taken on either a weekly or intermittent basis (i.e., separate blocks of time). Intermittent PFL must be used in full-day increments.
If an employee takes intermittent FMLA in partial day increments for a reason that also qualifies for PFL, and the employee is paid and works at least part of a work day, the University will track the hours taken against the employee’s FMLA allotment. When the partial day increments taken total the number of hours in the employee’s regular work day, the University will deduct one day of PFL from the employee’s available PFL allotment.
The cost of PFL is paid for through employee contributions. All eligible employees must participate in the plan whether or not they intend to take PFL (unless they are eligible for and have signed a waiver). New York State determines the amount of deduction on an annual basis.
An employee who is absent from work and whose PFL claim is later denied by the insurance carrier, may be authorized for leave, if eligible, under the University’s other leave of absence policies. If the employee is not eligible under any other leave of absence benefit, the absence may be treated as unexcused and subject to the University’s attendance policy.
An employee who returns to work at the conclusion of an approved period of PFL will be restored to the same position or to a comparable position (with comparable pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment). If the employee has exhausted all weeks of available PFL and is still unable to return to work, the employee is no longer provided with any job restoration rights under PFL; however, other job protections apply (e.g., FMLA).
Protection from Discrimination and Retaliation
The University will not discriminate and/or retaliate against any employee for inquiring about, applying for, or using PFL benefits. Employees who believe they have experienced discrimination and/or retaliation should immediately notify their supervisor, the Human Resources Department or any other member of management.
An employee who fraudulently obtains PFL, or who uses PFL in an improper manner, is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
An employee who has questions concerning PFL is encouraged to contact the Human Resources Benefits Office for more information, clarification and/or appropriate guidance. In addition, employees can obtain more information on PFL by visiting https://www.ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-paid-family-leave or calling (844) 337-6303 and by reading the Notice of Compliance (PDF) issued by the State of New York Worker's Compensation Board that is posted on the St. John's Federal and NY State Employment Posters website.
St. John's University, New York
Human Resources Policy Manual