1. What is Paid Family Leave (PFL)?
PFL is job-protected leave with a partial wage replacement benefit for employees who need time off as a result of a qualifying event, according to New York State PFL regulations. In 2019, the benefit is capped at 55% of the New York State average weekly wage — currently $746.41.
2. Why is the National Benefit Fund providing the PFL benefit?
The trustees added the PFL benefit to the NBF plan because the NBF already provides short-term disability benefits for NBF members, and since PFL benefits are related to short-term disability benefits, the NBF is in the best position to provide both benefits on behalf of contributing employers.
3. Does the NBF plan satisfy employers’ obligation to provide the PFL benefit?
Yes, employers may use the NBF plan to satisfy their legal obligations to provide PFL benefits to bargaining unit employees under New York State law, as they do with NBF short-term disability benefits. The plan provides the PFL benefit under a trustee plan, not statutory benefits, so it:
- fits the CBA exemption under Section 380-2.9 of NYCRR Title 12;
- amends an existing plan under WCL 211(4);
- provides benefits that are at least as favorable in amount and duration;
- exempts employers from PFL statutory benefit
4. What events qualify an employee for PFL leave?
Qualifying events include:
- Bonding with a newborn or newly adopted or fostered child during the first 12 months from the date of birth or placement for foster or adopted children;
- Caring for a family member (child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren) with a serious health condition; and
- Tending to situations that arise from a family member being called to active military service.
5. What are the additional costs for PFL leave?
There are no additional costs to employers or employees. The National Benefit Fund covers all costs. Employers should not make any deductions from bargaining unit employees’ paychecks for either Paid Family Leave or disability benefits.
6. When does an employee become eligible for PFL benefits?
An employee must work for an employer that contributes to the National Benefit Fund and be covered for benefits (Wage Class I, II or III) and have been employed for 26 weeks since date of hire.
7. What about part-time employees, who work 20 hours a week or less; are they ineligible until they’ve worked 175 days?
Plan rules govern eligibility for PFL benefits under a plan, and according to NBF plan rules, any employee who is Wage Class I, II or III is eligible for the PFL benefit after working 26 weeks.
Because the Fund does not receive reports on how many days a member has worked to determine eligibility, the plan’s PFL eligibility rules are designed to simplify the administrative process, and be at least as favorable as the statutory benefit design.
8. If approved, when will the employee’s PFL leave begin and how long can it last?
There is no waiting period for PFL benefits after an employee’s approved leave begins. As of January 1, 2019, a maximum of ten weeks of PFL leave is permitted during a rolling period of 52 weeks. An employee can take his or her approved benefit time all at once or break it up in full-day increments as needed, but either way, the employee cannot take more than the number of days he or she would work in ten weeks.
9. How does an employee request intermittent PFL leave?
If an employee is not sure of the dates of intermittent PFL leave at the time of the initial request, the employee can submit the request with tentative dates and then notify AliCare when the dates are known. Unlike FMLA, the employee cannot request partial-day leaves. No matter the number of requests or the number of qualifying events, during any consecutive 52-week period, the employee cannot take more time off than the number of days he or she would normally work during the PFL leave.
10. What responsibilities do employees and employers have with regard to members’ PFL benefits?
An employee must notify his or her employer with 30 days’ notice, if possible, and discuss when the leave needs to be taken. The employee must then complete the employee portion of the NBF’s PFL leave request form (available from our Outreach Coordinators and Member Services representatives and on our website) and submit it, along with supporting documents, to the employer. The employer must then complete the required employer information on the employee’s PFL request form and submit the form and supporting documents by fax or email.
11. How do employers submit their employees’ PFL requests and supporting documents?
Employers may fax PFL leave request forms and supporting documents to (914) 367-5374, or send an email containing the PFL leave request form and supporting documents to [email protected]. If employers have questions, they may call (888) 447-9055.
12. What responsibilities do employers have with regard to reporting and contributions?
Employers will continue to report and contribute to the NBF on employee wages, just as they do when an employee takes leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
13. What responsibilities does the National Benefit Fund have?
Through our partnership with AliCare, a division of Amalgamated Life, the NBF will determine eligibility, process the PFL leave request form, determine the PFL benefit amount, distribute the benefit to the employee, notify the employer of their employee’s PFL request status and mail an IRS Form 1099 directly to the employee.
14. Are employees entitled to continue to receive their NBF health coverage during PFL leave?
Yes, employees are entitled to continue receiving their NBF health coverage during PFL Employers must report average monthly wages to the National Benefit Fund and contribute on them. Employers are not required to make contributions to any other 1199SEIU Funds during an employee’s PFL leave. This is exactly the same procedure followed when an employee takes FMLA leave.
15. How does PFL affect FMLA?
If a PFL leave also qualifies as an FMLA leave, they can be run concurrently, depending on each employer’s policy or CBA. The NBF does not make that determination. The employer must notify the employee when it runs PFL and FMLA leaves together.
16. Can an employee use his or her sick time to supplement PFL leave?
The NBF does not make that determination. That depends on each employer’s policy or CBA.
17. Can an employee take both temporary disability leave and PFL leave at the same time?
No, disability leave and PFL leave cannot be taken at the same time. An employee’s combined total disability leave and PFL leave in any 52-week period may not exceed 26 weeks.
18. What protections do employees have if they take PFL leave?
While on PFL leave, employees are guaranteed job protection, with the same or comparable job, upon their return from PFL leave. They are also guaranteed continuation of their health coverage while out on PFL leave. Employers may not retaliate or discriminate against employees for taking PFL leave.
19. What are the required government forms and filings?
The Fund will provide employers with an updated Form DB-802 to submit to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). The DB-802 is an application to have the Fund’s trustee plan accepted as the employer’s plan for their bargaining unit employees.
When an employee collects PFL benefits, it is considered taxable income but not wages; therefore it does not need to be included in the employee’s W-2s, and AliCare will send directly to the employee an IRS Form 1099 after the end of the year.
20. If an employee uses other paid time off for a PFL leave, instead of PFL benefits, will the Fund reimburse the employer?
This refers to a narrow regulatory provision regarding statutory benefit requirements whereby an employee is permitted to use paid time off that he or she is not already entitled to use. In any event, statutory benefit requirements do not apply to this plan, and as a trust fund, the Fund does not and cannot pay funds to contributing employers.