What New York employers need to know about leave, salary policy changes
If they haven’t done so just yet, New York employers should ensure they are compliant with updates to the salary threshold for exempt employees and the minimum wage, which become effective Dec. 31, and the incoming paid family leave policy that begins Jan. 1.
The state’s new paid family leave policy requires employers to provide eight weeks of paid time off in 2018 to full time employees after 26 weeks of employment, and part-time employees after working 175 days for their employer. Employees can use the leave after the birth, adoption or fostering of a child, as well as caring for a sick family member.
New York’s mandated paid family leave will be added to an employer’s existing disability benefits policy and funded by employee payroll contributions, according to the state. The 2018 payroll contribution is 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage; employees making more than the state average weekly wage of $1,305.92 cannot contribute more.
“Most companies were working off an FMLA structure, particularly where it relates to maternity leave,” says Marc Mandelman, partner in the employment, labor and workforce management at law firm Epstein Becker Green. “Now there has to be a clear distinction between the pregnancy disability portion and child care portion.”
In 2018, employees can take up to eight weeks paid leave at 50% of their average weekly wage up to 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage. That increases to 12 weeks of paid leave in 2021 paid at 67% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage. In 2021, some employees may take up to 20 weeks of leave in combination with FMLA, Mandelman says. He notes that the generous paid time off will be routine for a large swath of eligible New Yorkers.
“Because it provides a significant amount of partial pay [between employer and state benefits] I think many more people will be taking advantage of family leave than they had before,” he says.
Meanwhile, employers also are preparing for changes to the state’s increases to the salary threshold and minimum wage.
Most employers are already familiar with the annual increases to the salary threshold and minimum wage, as the changes began in 2016 and will continue until 2021. Although the rate schedule has been available on the New York government website and many employers know what to expect, they still need to pay close attention to the salary threshold changes, says Marc Mandelman, partner in the employment, labor and workforce management at law firm Epstein Becker Green.
“Many employers thought that with the staying of the Obama regulatory changes under the federal law that this issue was put off until the U.S. Department of Labor proposes some alternative,” he says. “These numbers are quite high; they’re much higher than the proposed federal changes that were very concerning. It’s something employers definitely have to pay attention to.”
For New York City employers with 11 or more employees, wages will increase to $975 per week, or $50,700 a year, from $825 per week, or $42,900 a year. New York City employers with 10 or fewer employees will need to increase wages to $900 per week, or $46,800 a year, from $787.50 per week, or $40,950 a year.
Employers based in Long Island and Westchester County will need to increase the salary threshold to $825 per week, or $42,900 a year, from $750 per week, or $39,000 a year. Employers upstate will need to increase wages to $780 per week, or $40,560 a year, compared to last year’s mandate of $727.50 per week, or $37,830 a year.
The minimum wage will continue to grow to $15 per hour by 2021.