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PFL Amendments Expand Definition of Family Member and Offer Clarification on Intermittent Leave

By Katherine L. Wood, Esq. 

Employers have been complying with New York State’s Paid Family Leave Act (“PFL”) since 2018.  PFL mandates time off for employees to care for family members with serious health conditions, among other reasons.  Last month, Governor Hochul enacted an amendment to PFL, to expand the definition of covered family members.  Additionally, the Workers’ Compensation Board recently adopted a revised regulation that clarifies the amount of intermittent PFL employees make take when they work more than five days per week.

Definition of “Family Member” Expanded
PFL now provides job-protected leave to care for a sibling.  The definition includes biological siblings, adopted siblings, half-siblings, and step-siblings.  This expands the definition of family member, which previously only included spouses, domestic partners, children and step-children, individuals in the employee’s legal custody, parents and step-parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, and anyone for whom the employee acts in loco parentis

Employers have time to update their policies to comply with this expansion—this amendment does not go into effect until January 1, 2023.  Governor Hochul’s press release concerning this amendment can be found here

Intermittent Leave Clarification
In October, the Workers’ Compensation Board adopted revised regulations concerning intermittent PFL use.  These regulations will be implemented more quickly, going into effect on January 1, 2022.  Information from the Workers’ Compensation Board on this regulation can be found here.

Currently, employees who wish to use PFL intermittently are capped at a maximum number of 60 days per year for employees who work five days per week.  The revised regulation removes the 60-day cap, thus providing employees who work more than five days per week more intermittent leave.  Employees who work six days per week will be entitled to up to 72 days of PFL to use intermittently over a 52-week period, while employees who work seven days per week will be entitled to use up to 84 days of intermittent PFL over a 52-week period.

Employers who have employees who work more than five days per week should be mindful of this change, and carefully consider intermittent leave requests from such employees.

Hurwitz & Fine continues to monitor and analyze updates to employment laws.  Please contact any member of the firm’s Labor & Employment team for guidance on these evolving issues at 716-849-8900, or by e-mail.

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