We recently described the military-leave component of New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) law which becomes effective January 1, 2018. But how does this differ from the federal law called FMLA?  Turns out there are pretty big differences for New York employers, and the consequences require careful planning.

Simply put, military-related PFL will create new burdens for employers. While everyone invariably agrees that respect and gratitude is due to those who serve our country, New York’s private employers will now shoulder a greater burden because PFL has a far broader reach than FMLA   when it comes to military-related leave.

Under FMLA, a New York employer must provide leave only if:

  • It has 50 or more employees;
  • The employee has been worked at least 12 months and 1, 250 hours during that time; and
  • It’s the employee’s immediate family member who is called to or on active duty.

Immediate family members are a spouse, child, or parent of the employee only.

In contrast, PFL places a greater burden on NY employers and requires coverage for more employees:

  • Any size employer must offer PFL;
  • A leave-seeking full-time employee need only have worked 26 weeks;
  • A leave-seeking part-time employee need only have worked 175 days (approx. 6 months);
  • PFL-qualifying service members are expanded beyond immediate family to grandchildren and grandparents.

As a result, then, a full-time employee whose granddaughter becomes deployed likely is entitled to PFL.  Likewise, an employee whose grandfather is deployed likely qualifies for PFL.  In short, PFL will require more New York employers to provide coverage to more employees than under FMLA.

Even very small employers will face new burdens and should start to plan accordingly. Handbooks and employee policies must be modified to reflect the new law starting January 1st.