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Home » Benefits » Paid Family Leave | Frequently Asked Questions

Paid Family Leave | Frequently Asked Questions

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PFL BASICS
COVERAGE
ELIGIBILITY
DEDUCTIONS
USING PFL WITH OTHER LEAVE OPTIONS
OTHER QUESTIONS
ADJUNCTS

PFL BASICS

What is NYS Paid Family Leave (PFL)?

Paid Family Leave, under New York State law, is paid, job-protected time off to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, assist one’s family if a member is deployed on active military service outside the United States and—beginning in 2021—provide care for family members who have contracted COVID-19.

When did the PFL benefit at CUNY start?

Under the NY State Paid Family Leave Act, which took effect in 2018, most private-sector employers were required to implement PFL immediately. Public-sector unionized employers like CUNY, however, were not obligated to offer PFL; they have the option to offer PFL, but only if an agreement on terms is consistent with the State law is negotiated with the affected union(s).

During negotiations for the current PSC contract in 2019, the PSC won agreement from CUNY management to work to develop a PFL benefit for both full-timers and part-timers. Developing the benefit required adapting PFL for the employment structure at CUNY while staying within the requirements of the law. Negotiations involved the PSC, CUNY management, NY City, NY State, and two insurance companies. We reached agreement in early March 2021, and CUNY management, the City and the State agreed to implement the program promptly.

Will I be paid at my full rate while on PFL?

No. Under State law, employees on PFL are paid 67% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 67% of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). The SAWW is calculated annually by New York State. Consistent with State law, PFL benefits will be paid by an insurance carrier, not CUNY.

For 2021, the SAWW is $1,450.17. The maximum weekly benefit is 67% of this amount, or $971.61. Because of the cap, faculty and staff who earn $75,408.84 a year or more will be paid $971.61 per week while on PFL.

For 2022, the SAWW is $1,594.57. The maximum weekly benefit is 67% of this amount, or $1,068.36. Because of the cap, faculty and staff who earn $82,917.64 a year or more will be paid $1,068.36 per week while on PFL.

How much time off does PFL provide?

PFL provides 12 weeks of leave in any 52-week period if the PFL is taken in week-long segments, regardless of how many days per week you normally work each week.

An eligible employee may take PFL in day-long increments rather than as whole weeks. To determine the number of PFL days you are eligible for, multiply by 12 the average number of paid workdays per week you worked in the 8 weeks prior to the start of PFL. For example, if you are a full-time faculty member and are paid for five days of work a week, you are eligible for 12 times 5 days, or 60 days, if you take PFL in one-day increments.

If you are an adjunct or hourly employee working 3 days per week, you are entitled to 36 days of PFL if you take PFL in one-day increments and to 12 weeks of PFL if the leave is taken in whole weeks. (If you work three days a week, the PFL wage replacement benefit will be based on 3 days per week.)

Can I take a half-day of PFL if I don’t need a full day?

No. The minimum increment for PFL is a full day.

What would be an example of how I might use PFL in one-day increments?

Example 1: You need to provide care for a parent who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments one day a week for 15 weeks. In that case, you might elect to take PFL for that one day, or perhaps that day and the following one, every week for 15 weeks.

Example 2: You need to provide care for a child with a serious health condition requiring constant parental care. Perhaps your spouse is providing care three days each week and you need to provide care two days each week. In that case, you would take two days of PFL a week. If you are a full-time employee, you would be entitled to a total of 60 days in any 52-week period, so you could take two days a week for 30 weeks.

For full time faculty wishing to take partial leave during one or more weeks, see CUNY’s PFL guidelines and go to the section titled “Guidance for Faculty Members taking Intermittent Leave.”

COVERAGE

What kinds of family care are covered under PFL?

PFL may be used to:

  • Bond with a new child of any age during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the child’s placement for adoption or foster care with the employee.
  • Participate in providing care for an eligible family member with a serious health condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility, or continuing treatment or supervision by a healthcare provider.
  • Attend to family obligations when a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent is on active military service outside the United State or has been notified of an impending call or order of active service abroad.
  • And in a new provision for 2021, PFL may be used to care for a family member who has contracted COVID-19. In some situations, PFL may also be used to provide care when a dependent child is under quarantine or isolation because of COVID.

Which family members with a serious health condition may I care for under PFL?

The statute defines family member as:

  • spouse
  • domestic partner (including same and different gender couples; legal registration not required)
  • child/stepchild and anyone for whom you have legal custody
  • parent/stepparent
  • parent-in-law
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • siblings (included starting January 1, 2023)

Under the statute, “Child” means a biological, adopted or foster child or stepchild of the eligible employee or his/her domestic partner; legal ward of the employee; or a child for whom the employee stands in loco parentis. A child must either be under the age of 18 or incapable of self-care because of mental or physical disability. “Parent” means a biological, foster, or adoptive parent, a parent-in-law, a stepparent, a legal guardian, or other person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a child. “Grandchild” means a child of the employee’s child. “Grandparent” means a parent of the employee’s parent. “Sibling” means a biological or adopted sibling, a half sibling or step sibling.

ELIGIBILITY

Who is eligible for PFL?

Paid Family Leave is available to both full-time and part-time CUNY employees represented by the PSC who meet specific requirements. Citizenship and immigration status are not factors in eligibility. The vast majority of PSC-represented employees have already achieved eligibility because of how long they have worked at CUNY.

  • Teaching Adjuncts and Graduate Assistants are eligible once they have completed 26 weeks of employment. For teaching adjuncts, each week worked counts as a week for purposes of establishing the 26 weeks of employment, regardless of how many contact teaching hours the adjunct teaches per week.
  • Faculty and professional staff working 20 hours or more per week are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Breaks between semesters during which the employee remains on payroll are counted toward the 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
  • Faculty and professional staff working fewer than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days of employment. A workday includes any day that the employee is scheduled to work.

Are adjunct faculty, adjunct CLTs, non-teaching adjuncts, Continuing Ed faculty and graduate employees eligible for PFL?

Yes, provided they meet the minimum requirements for time worked above. For the first time, grad employees and the thousands of part-time employees at CUNY will have access to paid time off for family care. See the ADJUNCTS section for more detail.

How is eligibility calculated for an employee that has multiple titles at the same school?

Employees who work both as a teaching adjunct and a non-teaching adjunct during the same semester, would qualify based on the teaching adjunct title and reach eligibility after they have accumulated 26 weeks of teaching, during the second semester. If they work as a teaching adjunct one semester and then as a non-teaching adjunct the next semester and this pattern continues, they would establish employment after 175 days.

How can you lose your eligibility for PFL?

You lose eligibility if you are not on payroll for more than 26 consecutive weeks. If you then return to CUNY payroll, you would have to reestablish eligibility by working at least 26 consecutive weeks from the time you return to payroll.

When do I notify my college that I wish to take PFL?

You are responsible for notifying the college that you intend to apply for PFL benefits. If the request is foreseeable, you must provide the college HR Office with at least 30 days’ advance notice. If the event or reason for the leave is not foreseeable, you must notify the college as soon as practicable.
After notifying HR of your intent to take PFL, employees should inform their department chairs or supervisors of their plans for use of PFL. Adjuncts should read the ADJUNCT section below for more details.

What forms do I need to submit and to whom?

To receive PFL benefits, you must complete the appropriate Request for Paid Family Leave Form and provide the necessary documentation. Your college HR Office should provide you the forms and instructions for applying to the insurance carrier that will pay your wage-replacement benefit. If you work at a community college, your benefit will be paid while on PFL by MetLife, through its service-provider AbSolve. If you work at a senior college, your benefit will be paid by The Standard Insurance Company. Employees who work at both a senior college and a community college should apply separately to both AbSolve and the Standard to receive 67% of the average weekly wage they receive from each college. The employee, not the college, is responsible for submission of all necessary forms and documentation to the appropriate insurance carrier.

DEDUCTIONS

How is PFL paid for?

PFL is supported through mandatory employee contributions. The principle is that a relatively modest contribution from all PSC-represented employees creates a substantial PFL benefit that is available to all in times of family need. The payroll deduction is 0.511% of the employee’s wages each pay period, up to a maximum amount determined by the annual statewide average weekly wage (SAWW).

For 2021, the maximum payroll deduction for the year is $385.34. Employees may calculate their deduction using the 2021 NYS PFL deduction calculator.

For 2022, the maximum payroll deduction for the year is $423.71. Employees may calculate their deduction using the 2022 NYS PFL deduction calculator.
Is the deduction for PFL taken out pre-tax?

Is the deduction tax-deductible?

PFL deductions are taken from an employees’ after-tax wages and are not “tax-deductible.” See NYS notice on taxes for more information.

How is the deduction calculated? The CUNY PFL Guidelines state that the maximum deduction for 2021 is $14.82 per paycheck but my college is deducting more.

The deduction is calculated as .511% of your paycheck and is deducted until you reach the maximum annual deduction, which is $385.34 for 2021. The example given in the guidelines states, “In 2021, the maximum annual deduction for employees earning $75,411 or more will be $385.34, or $14.82 per biweekly paycheck.” However, this part of the CUNY PFL Guidelines is misleadingly phrased, as the way the deduction actually works is that .511% of your gross biweekly salary is deducted until you reach the annual maximum. The bi-weekly amount of $14.82 refers to someone with a $75,411 salary. If you make more than that, the bi-weekly amount deducted will be more. For example, if you make $90,000 a year, then the .511% biweekly deduction from your paycheck will be $17.69. However, once you reach the 2021 annual deduction maximum of $385.34, bi-weekly payroll deductions will stop.

Can I opt out of PFL?

Only those PSC-represented employees who meet one of the following conditions may opt out of PFL:

  • You work fewer than 20 hours per week and fewer than 175 days in a consecutive 52-week period. Teaching adjuncts and graduate employees will be credited one workday for every contact hour they teach per semester, with a maximum of five workdays per week.
  • Or you work 20+ hours a week but for fewer than 26 consecutive weeks in a 52-week period.

If you think you will meet one of these criteria, you may request to opt out. You will not be automatically excluded from the program. To request exclusion, you must submit the Employee Opt-Out of Paid Family Leave Benefits Form to your College Human Resources Office for approval. The deductions will stop only after approval. Please see CUNY’s detailed guidelines for information on opting out.

USING PFL WITH OTHER LEAVE OPTIONS

How does FMLA impact PFL?

FMLA automatically runs concurrently with PFL if the circumstances also make the employee eligible for FMLA leave. If an employee has no FMLA leave time left, they can still take PFL. Sick leave and annual leave are not deducted while you are on PFL.

How do you use PFL with Sick Leave, Paid Parental Leave (PPL), and FMLA?

An employee can take 6 weeks of Sick Leave (Temporary Disability) for a birth or adoption or 8 weeks of Sick Leave for a c-section birth. This must be used immediately after birth or adoption. After Sick Leave, the 8 weeks of PPL must be used immediately. If just taking PPL, it must be used immediately after the birth or adoption. The 12 weeks of PFL can be taken any time within 52 weeks after the birth or adoption.

FMLA, which is 12 weeks, runs concurrently alongside Sick Leave, PPL, and PFL. If both Sick Leave and PPL are used, then FMLA will be used up after 12 weeks. The remaining PPL and PFL can still be taken regardless of how much FMLA time is left.

There are some differences in coverage, however: PPL does not cover placement of a foster child, and it covers adoptions only of a child aged five or younger. PFL has no restrictions on the child’s age and includes foster care.

Can you use Annual or Sick leave in addition to PFL in order to receive 100% of your salary while on PFL?

No. PFL can only be taken by itself. Annual or sick leave can be taken before or after PFL but not during PFL.

OTHER QUESTIONS

What does it mean that my job will be “protected” if I take PFL?
Under the State law, employees who take PFL are entitled to restoration to “the position of employment held by the employee when the leave commenced or to be restored to a comparable position with comparable employment benefits.” You are also protected from retaliation if you exercise your rights to PFL.

Will my health insurance be maintained while I am on PFL?

Yes, you are entitled to continuation of your CUNY health insurance benefits and Welfare Fund benefits during PFL. If you pay a premium for health insurance through biweekly deductions from your CUNY paycheck, you will remain responsible for paying that premium deduction while receiving PFL benefits.

For purposes of section 13.3(b) of the PSC/CUNY collective bargaining agreement, does going off payroll for PFL cause a break-in-service?

The use of PFL would not cause a break-in-service for 13.3(b) purposes (HEO eligibility for a Certificate of Continuous Administrative Service). However, the time would not count towards eligibility for a 13.3(b) Certificate. Time on PFL would be treated as a bridge in service the same way as FMLA leave.

Are pension contributions made while on PFL?

No, because you are being paid by an insurance company and thus off the college payroll.

Can employees make up pension contributions not made while receiving PFL?

No. While on PFL, the employee is not on a college payroll and pension contributions are based on compensation from the college each pay period.

How does being off payroll on PFL affect union status? Will members be allowed to be delegates while on PFL?

If you are on payroll for anytime during a during the two-week payroll period, you will have dues deducted and maintain PSC membership. For example, if a member takes PFL for 9 days and is on payroll for 1 day, then their membership will be maintained. If you are off payroll for a pay period due to PFL, then you will return to dues-paying status when you begin work again. If you will be on PFL for a payroll period or more, in order to keep your PSC membership current (so you can maintain life insurance or be eligible to participate in a delegates assembly or other union meetings, for example), please email the PSC membership department at [email protected] to arrange to pay your dues directly.

ADJUNCTS

How do adjuncts begin the process to apply for PFL?

  1. First, an adjunct should accept their semester or yearly assignment. An adjunct must be employed to take PFL and therefore must have an assignment during the time they are on PFL. Do NOT contact your department first about your intention to take PFL.
  2. Second, they should notify the college’s HR department 30 days before they plan to take PFL or as soon as they know they will be taking it. Get the appropriate forms from HR, fill them out, and return them.
  3. Third, after contacting HR and submitting their PFL forms, they should inform the department that they will be taking PFL. Tell the department they should not cancel your class assignment. You must have an active assignment to receive PFL. If the department or college cancels your class assignment, please contact the PSC.

For example, an adjunct accepts their Fall semester assignment and later learns they will be having an early pregnancy that will occur during the first weeks of the semester. They should keep their assignment and inform HR that they will be applying for PFL. They get the forms from HR, fill them out, and submit them. Then they can inform their department that they will be taking PFL (and keeping their assignment). If an adjunct quits their Fall semester assignment before applying for PFL, they will not be able to take PFL during the semester and will lose eligibility as they did not teach during the summer. (Eligibility for PFL is lost after 26 weeks off payroll. To re-establish eligibility, an adjunct must be on payroll for 26 weeks). If you find yourself in this situation, please contact the PSC.

How do adjuncts become eligible for PFL?

Teaching Adjuncts are eligible once they have completed 26 consecutive weeks of employment. For teaching adjuncts, each week worked counts as a week for purposes of establishing the 26 weeks of employment, regardless of how many contact teaching hours the adjunct teaches per week.

A Teaching Adjunct who was initially assigned hours in a semester, but then loses those hours because of insufficient enrollment or reassignment will not be considered to have lost employment for that one semester, for purposes of PFL exclusively. If the loss of employment for the reasons above continues for consecutive semesters, the employee will not be considered to have lost employment for those semesters, for purposes of PFL exclusively.

Do non-teaching adjuncts who work less than 20 hours per week have to work 175 days in a year to become eligible or do the days accumulate year by year until they reach the required 175 days for eligibility?

A non-teaching adjunct who works less than 20 hours per week will become eligible for PFL after 175 days of work even if the days go past the first year as long as there is not a 26 week break off payroll. (They can, however, choose to opt out if they will not achieve eligibility in the first year).

How can you lose your eligibility for PFL? If a teaching adjunct has worked every semester for 10 years and then does not work a semester, do they lose their eligibility?

You lose eligibility if you are not on payroll for longer than 26 consecutive weeks and would then have to reestablish it. Therefore, a teaching adjunct who has eligibility would lose eligibility if they do not work a semester. The one exception is if they have been assigned work for a semester and then the course is cancelled due to low enrollment or reassignment. In this case they will not be considered to have lost employment for that semester for purposes of PFL and thus remain eligible.

Can a teaching adjunct or full-time faculty member take PFL during the summer?

Only those with summer classes can take PFL. In the case of a teaching adjunct who is not teaching over the summer, they are not working and thus cannot take PFL. In the case of faculty without summer classes, they cannot use PFL because they are on annual leave.

I teach at multiple campuses. How does PFL Work?

PFL eligibility, deductions, and benefits are based on the payroll for your position. Senior colleges have payroll through NYS and community colleges have payroll through NYC. So, if you teach at two or more community colleges, they are considered one payroll for purposes of eligibility, deductions, and benefits. You will have deductions for PFL taken at both community colleges until the combined amount reaches the maximum allowed for that year (see Deductions). When you take PFL, you must take it at all community colleges where you work at the same time, meaning you can’t take a day or week off at one and not the other. The amount of the benefit would be 67% of the employee’s total compensation at all community colleges.

If you work at a senior college and a community college, then that is considered two separate payrolls for PFL purposes, and so deductions will be separate with each being allowed to reach the maximum annual amount (see Deductions). You will be able to take the maximum benefit at both the senior college and the community college as well. You can take PFL from multiple employers at the same time for the same event. However, if you choose not to take PFL leave from all your employers for the same event, you cannot later take PFL with those initially excluded employers for that initial event. (For more information see NYS PFL FAQ for Part-Time Work)


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