In 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law one of the United States’ richest Paid Family Leave policies, designed to provide New Yorkers with the ability to take time away from work to care for their loved ones. In 2018, the law went into effect with a four-year phase-in, and each year, we have seen the benefit amounts increase accordingly. With 2020 upon us, we are here to provide you with some stats on New York Paid Family Leave (NYPFL), changes for the new year, and predictions on what the future may look like.

New York Paid Family Leave covers employees in three main categories of leave: bonding, caregiving, and military exigencies. Each of these leave categories can be taken with job protection, continuance of health insurance, and rules against discrimination or retaliation against those who take the leave. Designed to be completely employee-funded, as the benefit amounts increase each year, so do the employee deduction amounts. 

In 2019 the max benefit time was 10 weeks and 55% average weekly wages (AWW). As we look to 2020, the benefit amount is staying at 10 weeks, but increasing to 60% of AWW, up to 60% of the state average weekly wage (SAWW).

Additional changes for 2020 include a cap on the contribution at 0.270% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period, with an annual maximum contribution of $196.72. As the deduction rate is increasing by approximately 76% from 2019 to 2020, this seems to indicate that this benefit program is significantly more expensive than the state has previously estimated. The SAWW is increasing in 2020 to $1401.17, which means that the maximum weekly benefit for NYPFL will be $840.70. Another major change for 2020 is that there are now expanded protections for farm laborers, who were previously exempt from PFL, as part of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act.[i] In 2020, farm labors will have access to the same NYS Disability and Paid Family Leave benefits that apply to nearly all NYS employees.

When NYPFL first was announced, it was widely speculated that the biggest category of leave would be bonding, and data shows that is proving to be true. According to stats from one major NY carrier, ShelterPoint, bonding accounted for 76.7% of their PFL claims in 2018.[ii] Among those bonding claims, 72% were from mothers and 28% were from fathers. Mothers also tended to take more time than fathers, at 7 weeks and 4.5 weeks respectively. Over the last 50+ years, fathers in the U.S. have almost tripled the time that they spend caring for children. However, just like working mothers, working dads are finding it difficult to manage work and family responsibilities, with antiquated gender norms in some workplaces making it difficult to be both a caregiver and successful in a career. One 2017 study found that only 1 in 20 fathers in professional jobs took more than 2 weeks off after their child was born, and 75% took 1 week off or less.[iii] NYPFL is helping with this, but the differences in bonding claims between the genders are still significant. Caregiving accounted for 23.2% of total ShelterPoint claims, with a similar gender split of 73% women and 27% men, each taking an average of 4 weeks of leave. Military Exigency leave only accounted for 0.1% of ShelterPoint claims. According to the data, many individuals were not maxing out the benefit in 2018, as the average claim duration was just under 6 weeks, despite the maximum amount of time allotted being 8 weeks.  

Looking ahead beyond 2020, the state has the option to pause the increase in benefits for 2021. However, we fully expect the increase to move forward with the fourth and final stage of the PFL phase-in. In 2021, NY employees will have access to 12 weeks of leave at 67% of AWW, up to 67% of SAWW.  

It’s possible we may see some additional changes to NYPFL in the future. For example, a number of proposals have been made to include siblings in the list of eligible family members for caregiving leave, but so far, the change has not been made. Another proposal was made to add bereavement to the existing qualifying categories of NYPFL. This addition would have given employees paid leave to mourn the loss of a loved one. We may see this pop up again, but for now, bereavement has not been added to NYPFL. At Bond, we continue to keep up on the latest changes and will be sure to alert clients when any adjustments to NYPFL are put into motion.

In preparation for 2020, employers should make sure that their team members who administer NYPFL requests and run payroll are aware of the changes, and arrange for employee contribution amounts to increase to the new rates effective 1/1/2020. In addition, employers need to make sure that any written materials such as leave policies, handbooks, or posted notices, are updated to reflect the most up-to-date information. Finally, your Bond Team is here to help! If you have any questions on NYPFL, or your other benefits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or give us a call at 585.248.5870.



[iii] Pragg, B., & Knoester, C. (2017). Parental Leave Use Among Disadvantaged Fathers. Journal of Family Issues, 38(8), 1157-1185