Frequently Asked Questions about Paid Family Leave
Message from President Barbara Bowen, March 17, 2020
Dear PSC Members,
I am happy to announce that a new benefit, paid family leave, will be available starting this month at the senior colleges and next month at the community colleges.
The contract the union reached in 2019 included a commitment to negotiate paid family leave for both part-time and full-time employees. We couldn’t have foreseen then how important paid time to care for family members would soon become.
After complex negotiations involving the PSC, CUNY management, New York State, New York City and two insurance carriers, the union reached agreement on the new benefit. Most of the provisions of the program are defined by State law, but within those provisions we were able to develop a program adapted to our members.
For the first time, CUNY faculty and professional staff, whether you work full time or part time, will have the right to take up to 12 weeks every year of paid, job-protected time off to bond with a new child or care for a family member who is ill.
Paid family leave (PFL) provides time free from work responsibilities and at a percentage of your normal pay. It is your time, for your family and their needs.
You may use the time, for example, to care for a spouse who is recovering from surgery, to take your mother to a weekly medical treatment, to stay home with a child with a serious physical or mental health condition, to bond with your newborn child, to welcome a foster child into your home. Once your medical documentation is approved, PFL is a right, not an award, and the State law defines “family” expansively.
PFL may also be used to assist family members deployed abroad in the armed services. And in a provision added this year, PFL may be used to care for a family member with COVID-19 or, in some cases, to provide assistance if your minor child is quarantined because of COVID.
PFL is in addition to the paid parental leave won by the union in 2008. New parents who are eligible for paid parental leave may also take PFL.
The PFL benefit has been available since March 8, 2021 at the senior colleges, and it will begin on April 11, 2021 at the community colleges. (The difference in dates is a result of different State and City payroll schedules.)
PFL is paid for collectively, by mandatory deductions from our pay that are based on our income. The deduction rate is set by New York State law. For 2021, deductions are 0.511% of our salary, up to an annual maximum of $385.43.
While on PFL, you will be paid at the rate of 67% of your normal pay, up to a maximum of 67% of the statewide average weekly wage. Again, these limits are set by State law. For 2021, the maximum weekly pay is $971.61.
PFL at CUNY comes with detailed guidelines on eligibility, pay rates and deductions. Click here for FAQs about the program, and CUNY’s Human Resources Offices has posted a document reflecting the guidelines negotiated with the union. Please consult the guidelines if you have questions about your own circumstances.
The PSC leadership recognizes that the PFL deductions will be implemented before our 2% raise from last November is restored. The PSC is aggressively pushing Albany right now to prioritize restoring our salary increases as the first order of business in resolving the budget. As I write, the news coming from Albany is hopeful, thanks in part to an unprecedented push for new funding by the PSC. Add your voice here.
Paid family leave is something we are able to do because we do it together, as a union. By pooling our mandatory deductions, we are able to create a new benefit, to provide the first paid family leave of any kind for CUNY’s thousands of part-timers and graduate employees, and to recognize in our contract that caring for others is a fundamental right.
This brutal year has brought home to many of us how much it means to be able to care for those we love. Paid family leave has rarely seemed as important as it does now. I hope you and your families stay well, and that it is reassuring to know that PFL is there if you need it.