New York State maternity and family medical leave laws will change dramatically in 2018. During the remainder of 2017, parents must deal with lesser entitlements while bonding with their newborn or dealing with extended pregnancy complications prior to delivery.

NYS has a combination of state-based rulings and federal regulations that affect each set of parents differently, depending on where they work, and why they need to stop working.

This page organizes answers to the most commonly asked questions in three categories.

  1. Maternity leave pay – how long does it last, and how many weeks do I get?
  2. Family medical leave – what is the difference between the federal and state acts?
  3. Key qualifications – are fathers, small business personnel, or teachers eligible?

New York State Maternity Leave Pay – How Much & How Long

Five different entitlement programs in New York State can possibly provide maternity leave pay for new parents. The amount of money available to claim and the number of weeks the benefits last depend on the reasons for a valid application, and the timing.

ProgramWeekly Max# of Weeks
State Disability$170Up to 26
Paid Family Leave$6488 – 12
Private Disability$1,500Up to 104
Unemployment$430Up to 26
Sick TimeUnlimited40 hours

State Disability

NYS short-term disability is the primary maternity leave pay regulation. The program provides income replacement for mom’s own health condition. Women utilize this entitlement when experiencing complications of pregnancy, and while recovering from childbirth.

  • The weekly amount is 50% of income or $170 – whichever is less.
  • The benefits last for up to 26 weeks during the time that mom is unable to work.
    • Complications of pregnancy is often a covered medical condition
    • The standard claims length for normal vaginal childbirth is 8 – 12 weeks
      • 4 – 6 weeks prior to delivery
      • 4 – 6 weeks after birth
    • C-section delivery may extend benefits for an additional 2 weeks.

Both your employer and a doctor must sign the claims application form. Mail or fax the completed paperwork to the insurance company selected by your employer.

Paid Family Leave

The NYS Paid Family Leave Act (PFL) passed in April of 2016. However, it does not take effect during 2017. Parents will first become eligible in January of 2018.

Both parents will be eligible to utilize this entitlement “to bond with their child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or during the first 12 months after placement of the child for adoption or foster care.” However, mom cannot apply for benefits under this higher-paying program for her own pregnancy-related medical condition.

You calculate the benefit amount by multiplying a specified percentage by the state average worker’s weekly wage. The benchmark for 2016 is $1,296. The projected amount and duration will gradually increase according to the following schedule.

YearWeekly Max# of Weeks

The state offices will administer this program. You can download claim forms and find instructions on the state site.

Private Disability

Private short-term disability is a third paid maternity leave benefit in NYS. You are eligible to purchase up to 66% total income replacement, capped at $1,500 weekly. This makes bonding with baby much more affordable.

You must purchase this supplemental policy through your employer prior to conception. Both your employer and a doctor must sign the claims application form. Mail or fax the completed paperwork to the insurance company issuing this private policy.

Unemployment Compensation

NYS unemployment compensation laws rarely allow for parental leave pay – at least during the early stages. The claimant must be able and available to work and actively seeking employment.

Eligibility to claim unemployment comes after mom or dad is ready for work. New parents who terminate employment for a “compelling family reason” may qualify. The state defines this to include –

“the illness or disability of a member of the individual’s immediate family.”

This definition could apply to any male who needs to care for his wife during pregnancy complications. In addition, either parent could qualify after their newborn spends time in neonatal intensive care (NICU) or develops a serious medical condition after hospital discharge.

NYC Sick Time

The New York paid sick time policy provides very limited maternity leave pay. The NYC decree requires paid sick time for employees working for private sector employers. Government employees are not covered.

Employees accrue sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. Employers with five or more employees who are employed more than 80 hours a calendar year in New York City must comply. Those with less than five employees must offer unpaid time off.

Family Medical Leave Acts in New York State

Two separate laws apply in New York State (Family Medical Leave Act – FMLA and Paid Family Leave Act – PFL) to provide job protections and continued access to health insurance for parents. Timing is the crucial differentiator, as the state-based regulation does not go into effect until 2018. During 2017, new parents must rely exclusively on federal regulation.

This chart breaks down the key differences between the two acts.

Employer sizeNone50 in 75-mile radius
Weeks employed2652
Hours workedNone1,250
Length8 – 12 weeks12 weeks

· Baby bonding

· Sick family member

· Own condition

· Military

· Yes

· Yes

· No

· Yes

· Yes

· Yes

· Yes

· Yes

NYS Paid Family Leave Act

The NYS Paid Family Leave Act (PFL) becomes effective in January of 2018. Parents who must stop working at this time will find that this new law provides several advantages over its federal counterpart.

  1. Paid time away from work – workers will qualify for 50 – 67% of the average worker’s weekly wage depending on the year.
  2. More workers qualify – there is no employer size or hours worked criteria. The length of employment requirement is half as long.

A special provision nullifies a third possible advantage for women who must stop work prior to delivery because of medically based pregnancy complications. Any time she takes in advance of her delivery eats into the time she has to bond with her baby – and she receives a much lower rate of income replacement.

“Employees must use FMLA and state PFL concurrently.
They may not stack time to take over 12 weeks,
or the maximum duration permitted at the time by the phase-in schedule.”

The federal FMLA allows for mom’s own health condition, whereas the PFL version does not. However, this additional clause eliminates the opportunity to extend her time away from work. If she returns to work after more than 12 weeks, she may no longer have a job.

Federal Family Medical Leave Act

There are three federal laws regarding maternity leave that may apply to parents in NYS during 2017 and beyond.

  1. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides twelve weeks of job-protected time from work for a worker’s own health issue, to care for a sick family member, to bond with baby. Covered employers have 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of the affected person. You must meet hours worked and other eligibility criteria.
  2. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
  3. The American with Disabilities Act addresses employer accommodations when complications arise.

New York State Maternity Leave Laws – Who Qualifies

The most frequently asked questions, about New York State maternity leave laws, relate to who qualifies for the entitlements. In this section, we will apply the rules to different groups of people and employers. As you will see throughout this section, the answer depends very much on timing because the newest requirement does not take effect until 2018.

Fathers on Paternity Leave

NYS laws will sometimes apply to fathers taking paternity leave. New dads do enjoy some rights.

  • Fathers cannot claim disability benefits because they remain physically able to work.
  • Fathers can claim unemployment if he terminates his job to care for a seriously ill mother and/or baby.
  • Fathers will be eligible under PFL beginning in 2018.
  • Fathers are eligible under the federal FMLA during 2017 and beyond.

Small Businesses

NYS maternity leave laws sometimes apply to small businesses, and sometimes not. It depends on the statute and the size of the company.

Small businesses must comply with regulations without a number of employee criteria.

  1. The disability program applies to all private employers regardless of size
  2. The unemployment compensation rules do not discriminate based on size
  3. The pending PFL entitlement also has no size criteria
  4. The NYC paid sick time policy has rules for companies of all sizes

Small businesses could be exempt from any laws with a number of employee criteria.

  1. FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more in a 75-mile radius
  2. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act begins at 15
  3. The Americans with Disabilities Act starts at 15

Teachers and Educators

NYS maternity leave laws sometimes apply to teachers. In addition to the usual timing issues, it is helpful to break the issue down by private versus public school educators. The rules apply differently for private and public school instructors.

The state disability program sometimes covers teachers. Educators are covered when required, or when exempt schools elect to participate voluntarily.

  • Not-for-profit schools are exempt from the requirement.
  • Private for-profit schools are subject to the requirement.
  • Public schools hire government employees, who are exempt.

Public school teachers can tap into their Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR). In addition, members of the United Federation of Teachers union have access to a temporary disability policy that covers normal childbirth. Benefits range up to $475 per week as of 2016.

The federal FMLA applies to teachers employed by private, non-profit, and public schools with more than 50 employees working within a 75-mile radius.

Certain teachers meet the eligibility criteria for workers compensation. These same qualifications apply to both unemployment compensation and the pending PFL.

  • Public schools – yes
  • Private schools – yes
  • Non-profit schools – no
  • Religious schools – no
  • Charitable organizations – no

Commuters from the Other States

NYS labor laws regarding maternity leave apply to people based on where they work rather than where they live. It does not matter what state you live in. If you commute from out-of-state to work in New York, the laws listed on this page apply to you. The rules in your home state do not have jurisdiction.

  • New Jersey residents commuting into NYC lose significant rights
  • Connecticut residents gain income-replacement benefits but lose other protections
  • Pennsylvania residents enjoy income-replacement benefits and give up nothing
  • Massachusetts residents make an even trade

State Government Employees

Civil services workers employed by an NYS government agency have a limited set of entitlements during maternity leave. The statutory disability program exempts government workers. On the other hand, the worker’s compensation eligibility criteria include them. Therefore, they can take advantage of unemployment compensation, and the pending PFL.