Am I eligible for Paid Family Leave if I cannot use FMLA?

As New York City has taken steps to provide more benefits to workers who would like to take time off for family matters, certain questions and issues will inevitably arise. Workers can now take time off for Paid Family Leave. This is in conjunction with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Workers who do not meet the threshold to get time off under FMLA can use Paid Family Leave in New York. However, it is vital to understand who is eligible.

All eligible employees in New York can take part in the Paid Family Leave program. For full-time employees who work a regular work schedule of 20 or more hours each week, there will be eligibility after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Part-time employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week can be eligible after working for 175 days. These do not have to be consecutive. Citizenship or immigration status has no bearing on a worker's eligibility. If employers do not grant workers their time off when they have met these requirements, it is a violation of the employees' rights.

Workers can have bonding leave. This is applicable to parents who are not just expecting a biological child, but are also adopting a child or taking a child in for foster care. Workers can get up to eight weeks off for this. This starts when the child is born. Workers cannot take it if it is due to a prenatal condition. It can be used within the first year after the birth, the adoption or fostering of a child.

People who have a close relative who is suffering from a serious health condition can also have time off. This applies to a spouse, a domestic partner, a child, a stepchild, a parent, an in-law, a grandparent, or a grandchild. "Serious" means that it is an illness, injury or other issue that requires inpatient hospital, hospice or care facility treatment or continuing treatment under supervision of a health care provider. Finally, military active duty deployment can get a worker time off under the new law. This is true if the spouse, child, parent, or domestic partner is deployed abroad or will be deployed abroad.

People who are covered under Paid Family Leave can take time off free of worry about losing their job. When there is a disagreement with the employer about this, it could be the basis for employee litigation. Unions that have members concerned about this issue should have a law firm that is experienced in employee benefits to help workers get the rights they have earned under the law.

Source: ny.gov, "Paid Family Leave: Information for Employees -- Eligibility," accessed on Feb. 13, 2018

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