New York employers – like employers in every state -- must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for certain reasons. Once an employee’s FMLA leave is over, the employee has the right to be reinstated to his or her position.
New York laws also give employees the right to take time off for family and medical reasons. Employees are entitled to the protections of all applicable laws; if more than one law applies, the employee may use the most beneficial provisions.
Federal FMLA Rights
New York employees who are eligible may take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious health conditions, bonding with a new child, or preparation for a family member's military service; more leave is available for employees who need to care for a family member who was seriously injured on active military duty. For detailed information on FMLA leave, see Taking Family and Medical Leave.
Who Is Covered?
Employers in New York are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:
- they have worked for the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
- they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Reasons for Leave
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
- recuperate from a serious health condition
- care for a family member with a serious health condition
- bond with a new child
- handle qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s military service, or
- care for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty in the military. (You can find more information on these last two types of leave in Military Family Leave for Employees.)
How Much Leave Is Available?
New York employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. This leave is available every 12 months, as long as the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements explained above.
Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. However, this is a per-injury, per-service member entitlement. Unless the same family member is injured again, or another family member suffers an injury while on active duty, an employee may not take additional leave for this purpose.
Leave and Reinstatement Rights
Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.
When an employee’s FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.
New York Family and Medical Leave Laws
In addition to the rights granted by the FMLA, employees in New York are entitled to time off for military family leave and adoption. The state also has a temporary disability insurance program, as explained below.
New York Military Family Leave
Employers with at least 20 employees must give time off to eligible employees who have a spouse who is a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Armed Forces, and who is deployed during a period of military combat to a combat theater or combat zone of operations. Employers must grant employees up to ten days of leave while the employee’s spouse is on leave during deployment.
Adoption Leave in New York
All employers that offer parental leave for the birth of a biological child must make the same amount of leave available to employee who adopt a child who is preschool age or younger (or who is up to 18 years old, if the child has a disability).
New York Temporary Disability Insurance
New York has a state temporary disability program, which pays eligible employees who are temporarily unable to work due to disability (including pregnancy) up to half of their usual wages. You can get more information on this program at the website of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (select “Disability Benefits”).