New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed paid leave legislation into law, and it is expected any day now that the San Francisco city mayor will as well sign into law mandated paid family leave. The State of New York becomes effective using a phased-in approach starting in 2018; while the San Francisco law becomes effective January 1, 2017 for employers with 50 or more employees and July 1, 2017 for employers with 20-49 employees. Highlights of these paid family leave laws can be found via the links at the bottom of this article.

The State of New York Twelve-Week Paid Family Leave Law Phased Approach

Led by Governor Cuomo, the State of New York’s recently passed 2016-17 State Budget includes a landmark paid family leave policy – the longest and most comprehensive in the nation – to help workers maintain financial stability while taking time to care for a family member.

When fully phased in by 2021, eligible employees will be eligible for twelve weeks of paid family leave to care for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. The governor’s twelve-week proposed paid leave program will be the most robust program in the nation, because it provides double the length of paid leave than is provided by any other state program, as well as a high benefit amount (compared to California which provides a State Disability Insurance that offers wage-replacement of 55 percent and is funded through deduction from employee paychecks). Benefits will be phased in beginning in 2018, with employees getting eight weeks of leave per year and 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, and fully implemented in 2021 at 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. This program will be funded entirely through a nominal payroll deduction on employees so it costs businesses – both big and small – nothing. Employees are eligible to participate after having worked for their employer for six months. The maximum of 67 percent of the State of New York’s average weekly wage is estimated to be in excess of $1,000 per week by 2021. This program will ensure that workers will be able to afford to take vital bonding time with their newborns and provide care to sick relatives. More information on the governor’s proposal is available at:

More regulations will need to be developed prior to this law beginning the phased-in application.

San Francisco

One day after the State of New York signed into law the Paid Family Leave Law, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to mandate fully-paid time off for new parents funded through a weekly payroll tax. The remaining 55 percent of the employee’s wages is covered by the State Disability Insurance Paid Family Leave Program. Unlike the State of New York, this new San Francisco ordinance applies only to new parents and not to care for ailing family members. California (six weeks of partial wage replacement), New Jersey (six weeks of partial wage replacement), Hawaii, Rhode Island (four weeks with partial wage replacement), Washington and the State of New York (in a less robust law only covering injured employees and parental bonding) offer similar state disability wage replacement and protected leave programs. 

The High-Level Details

  • Already offers 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave to city employees but not paid leave to care for an ailing relative (unlike the State of New York).
  • Since 2007, has had a Paid Sick Leave Law in place, although less robust.
  • Now the first city in the U.S. to mandate six weeks of fully-paid leave for new parents.
  • The mayor must still sign the measure before it becomes law, although a veto is not expected, and additional regulations must be promulgated prior to the effective date outlining the details of how the law will apply to employers.
  • California currently offers 12 weeks of paid family leave with partial wage replacement of 55 percent for six weeks and mandates three days of paid sick leave per year.
  • This new law will require employers with twenty or more employees to make up the remaining 45 percent of wages.
  • San Francisco employers with at least 20 workers would have to provide the benefit to new parents who spend at least 40 percent of their work week within San Francisco boundaries.
  • The legislation does not apply to the federal, state or other municipal governments.
  • An employer may appeal an employer notice within 90 days and assert that it provides its employee access.
  • Employees may be required to use up to two weeks of vacation leave before taking paid family leave.
  • Employees may be required to repay the paid leave benefit if they leave employment.

Next Steps

 Employers with the State of New York and San Francisco employees are not new to such laws. Become familiar with these laws to ensure compliance by the effective dates.

 For completed details, see: