Payments under New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program rose steadily between 2018 and 2021 as the amount of allowable time off and weekly cash benefits increased. Almost eight million workers were covered under PFL, with $872 million paid on approximately 156,000 claims in 2021, the latest year for which PFL data is available from the state Department of Financial Services, according to an analysis by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“The state’s Paid Family Leave program has allowed New Yorkers to care for loved ones, whether it’s a parent bonding with a newborn or someone looking after a sick family member, without losing their income,” DiNapoli said. “The state should continue to promote this successful program by ensuring employers are aware of their responsibilities and workers are aware of the benefits and the employment and health insurance protections that come with it. No one should have to choose between caring for a loved one and sacrificing a paycheck.”
In 2021 an estimated 88% of employees in the private sector in New York had access to paid family leave benefits, much higher than 29% for the Northeast Census Region and 23% for the United States.
An analysis of claims data from the first four years of the program indicates:
- Employees earning less than $40,000 per year accounted for the largest number of claims, with the number decreasing as income rises, suggesting paid family leave is a particularly important benefit to low-to moderate-income employees.
- Participating insurers approved over 550,000 claims and paid over $2.2 billion in cash benefits to eligible employees.
- Bonding with a newborn child generated over 80% of all payments and more than 70% of all claims.
- Women filed and received about two-thirds of all program claims and payments.
- Service employees – such as health care, education, information and legal services workers – accounted for nearly 45% of all claims by industry.
PFL provides paid time off for eligible employees who are caring for a family member with a serious health condition; bonding with a newborn, newly adopted or foster child; or assisting a family member deployed abroad on active military service.
The program began providing benefits on Jan. 1, 2018; maximum weeks of leave and percentages of weekly benefit payments were phased in over four years by Jan. 1, 2021.
Read the full Comptroller’s report here: Economic and Policy Insights – New York’s Paid Family Leave Program