We're entering year two of New York's Paid Leave Law, but I've discovered that there is still a lot to be learned about how the law operates. Although I knew the basics, the topic has taken on more urgency as our valued client services manager, Aurora will be taking maternity leave in a few months.
For those of you who don't know much about the law, here's a brief summary:
- Effective January 1, 2018, eligible employees can receive paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a sick family member, or assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.
- As of January 1, 2019, employees can take up to 10 weeks of leave. The number of weeks will continue to rise through 2021 when it hits 12 weeks.
- Employees taking leave receive 55% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 55% of the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,357.11. The maximum weekly benefit for 2019 is $746.41. These figures will also rise until 2021.
- Employers aren't funding paid leave; it is insurance that may be funded by employees through payroll deductions.
- For more information on the law, see the New York State Government website.
Of course I'm thrilled for Aurora, but being without an integral part of your business operations for an extended period can be stressful—especially with an upcoming office move. Serendipitously, in October, I received an email newsletter on the topic from Mark Stone, a CPA with expertise in sales tax audits. Mark's tax specialist went on leave to have her second child in August 2018, almost a year after having her first child and taking leave. I called Mark for advice and wondered whether he might know of a temporary employee I could interview as a fill-in. Mark suggested I consider bringing on a permanent part-time staff member who could fill the void during maternity leave, then assist in other support areas. (And if another blessing should occur in the future, we would not have to start another search for someone temporary.)
So, with excitement (and a small sense of relief), we are bringing on a permanent part-time employee in late January.
Right now we are putting finishing touches on extensive procedural manuals and workflows (thank you, Gail Trugman-Nikol, for your wisdom) so that our new staff member will have a track to follow. The last thing I want is for delegated tasks to boomerang because someone is new and unsure and waiting for me to tell them what to do. The opportunity to implement this type of backup planning will be an exciting milestone for our firm while letting us feel the joy for Aurora and Michael.