Maternity Leave and Parental Rights in New York

Is there maternity leave in NY? The state of New York doesn't have a statewide law that covers maternity leave for either parent. Instead, it defers to the Family or Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that was signed into law in 1993. The state provides disability benefits for those who are employed and pregnant, but support ends when the child is born and the new parent has to invoke the FMLA for relief.

Because the state of New York uses the FMLA in favor of its own laws, those who are looking for relief from work for a family related issue have to refer to the federal law for guidance.

The FMLA has a mandate that requires employers to allow an employee that's eligible up to 12 weeks off in a 12 month period for their own serious health issue, to care for a family member with a health condition, to handle matters related to the military deployment of a family member, or to bond with a new child.

By legal standards, maternity or parental leave has two parts. One part deals with the time the employee takes off during pregnancy and the act of childbirth while the other part handles the time the employee takes off in order to recover and spend time with the new child. New York is one of a few states that offers disability payments to employees who are pregnant. However, the state does not extend the benefit to employees that are postpartum. It requires them to rely on the FMLA for parental leave rights. The FMLA guarantees that the employee won't be threatened with loss of their job because they needed to take time off for giving birth to a child.

Employees who seek benefits can do so under the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYSOTDA). An expectant mother is qualified for temporary family assistance when she reaches the fourth month of pregnancy. The state of New York combines state rulings with federal regulations that affect parents in different ways, depending on their line of work and the reason why they have to stop working.

What is Short-Term Disability in NY State?

State law requires private employers to offer partial wage and income replacement for up to 26 weeks to employees who are unable to work for a short time as a result of a disability. Short-term disability covers the inability to work because someone is pregnant with complications or is in the time period immediately following childbirth. An employee who fits within this criteria can make a claim on their employer's insurance policy that covers disability. Most employers in New York state are required to carry an insurance policy to cover this and other work-related disabilities. While it's common for pregnant employees to claim short-term disability, they do have to provide a written determination from a physician that they are unable to work due to their condition.

Using FMLA Parental Leave

An employee who has invoked FMLA must finish their leave within one year after the child has arrived. Leave under FMLA is unpaid as there is no requirement for employers to pay. However, if there is accrued paid leave, the employee may choose or be forced to use that paid leave during the FMLA absence. The employer must continue the employee's health insurance benefits the same as if the employee was still working. However, the employee must pay his or her share of the health insurance benefits if they were paying while they were working. In the event the employee's leave is unpaid and the employee pays through payroll deductions, the employer has to arrange for payment in a different manner.

When the FMLA leave period has expired, the employer must reinstate the employee in the same position they held prior to taking leave. If the position is no longer available, the employer has to offer the employee a position of equivalent stature. The employer must also restore the benefits that the employee was receiving prior to the leave. In the event the employee decides to not return to work after having a child, the employer may have legal recourse to recover what it spent on the employee's health insurance policy during the FMLA leave.

How long a mother can claim maternal disability leave for depends on the method and difficulty of delivery. More time is allotted for difficult deliveries. Employer payment for maternity leave depends on factors that include the salary, how long the employee was working at the business for, and any other contributing factors.

How do You File a Claim for NY State Disability Wages?

Claims for disability benefits have to be requested through a form known as DB-450. An employee can only claim for benefits when they are disabled, not before such as in the case of pregnancy. Employees have a 30-day deadline to file that starts counting down from the day the employee has become disabled.

When and How are Benefits Distributed?

The current maximum an employee can expect to receive is 50 percent of the employee's average gross wages from the previous eight weeks. The first week the employee is on disability is considered a waiting period and will not be paid. Benefits are distributed after the first week and payments are received every two weeks after this point. The amount of the benefit depends on the reasons for the application and timing.

How Long are Benefits Distributed?

The length of benefits depends on the assessment of a medical provider. A medical provider can determine how long an employee is to be on disability for and states it on the form. For pregnancy, the typical post-partum disability period is six weeks for a normal delivery and 8 weeks for a birth delivered through C-section.

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