Legally speaking, maternity or parental leave has two parts:
For the first part, pregnancy disability leave, New York is one of a small handful of states that gives employees the right to time off that is paid through insurance. For the second part, New Yorkers also benefit from one of the country's most generous parental leave laws, which gives them the right to up to 12 weeks of paid, job-protected time off to bond with a new child.
In addition, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives employees in all states the right to take unpaid leave for these reasons. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which may give you the right to take time off work in some cases.
Like employees in other states, New York employees may have the right to take time off work while they are unable to work due to pregnancy under the FMLA and/or the PDA. Unlike employees in other states, New York employees also have the right to get paid during this time off.
New York law requires employers to provide short-term disability coverage to their employees. This insurance provides partial wage replacement (50% of the employee's wages, up to a weekly cap) to employees who are temporarily unable to work for any reason, including pregnancy. (The insurance doesn't cover work-related injuries or illnesses, which are compensated under workers' compensation instead.)
You're eligible for short-term disability payments in New York if:
In addition, you must be under the care of a medical provider, who must certify that you're unable to work due to your pregnancy or recovery from delivery. Both physical and mental health conditions are eligible for disability benefits, as long as the conditions are related to your pregnancy or post-partum recovery.
An employee is entitled to collect these short-term disability benefits only while she is actually unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth. The standard amount of time is four weeks before the due date and six weeks after giving birth. An employee who is unable to work more than four weeks before giving birth or continues to be unable to work more than six weeks after giving birth may have to submit additional medical documentation to support her claim. The maximum period of disability under the law is 26 weeks.
For more information on New York's pregnancy disability leave rules, see New York Short-Term Disability and Pregnancy.
The federal Family Medical Leave Act gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of off work in a one-year period for pregnancy leave (and parenting leave, which we'll discuss below). If you qualify, you can use the FMLA to take time off when you are unable to work because of your pregnancy and childbirth. You can also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off work, but employers do need to treat employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy just as it treats other employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons. For example, if your company lets employees take time off for temporary disabilities like broken bones or heart attacks, then it must allow pregnant employees to take the same time off when they are unable to work.
In addition to these federal and state laws, New York has a family leave law that offers parents up to three months of paid leave to spend time with a new child.
Under New York's Paid Family Leave (PFL) law, you have the right to take 12 weeks of paid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child (or care for a family member with a serious health condition).
During your PFL, you'll receive 67% of your average weekly wage, up to a cap of 67% of the current statewide average weekly wage, which varies by year. For 2022, New York's average weekly wage is $1,594.57, which means the maximum weekly benefit you'll receive during PFL is $1,068.36.
You're eligible for PFL after 26 weeks of employment if you work 20 hours per week or more. If you work fewer than 20 hours per week, you're eligible after 175 days of work.
You can't take PFL benefits and short-term disability benefits at the same time. But once you've recovered from the temporary disability caused by your pregnancy or post-partum recovery, you can begin your PFL. You can't take more than 26 weeks of combined short-term disability and PFL benefits in a 52-week period.
To apply for PFL, you must first notify your employer at least 30 days before the start of your leave, if possible. If it's not practical or possible to give that much advance notice, you should notify your employer as soon as possible.
Next, you'll need to fill out the necessary forms and collect the required documents, which you then have to submit to your employer's insurance carrier, within 30 days of the start of your leave.
Forms. You'll need to fill out two forms: the Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1) and the Bonding Certification (Form PFL-2). These forms should be available from your employer, or you can access them online.
Documents. If you're the child's birth mother, you'll need to submit a copy of the child's birth certificate or an original copy of a certification of birth from a health care provider.
If you're a parent other than the birth mother, you'll need to submit one of the following:
Or, you may submit the same documentation as the birth mother as well as a second document verifying your relationship to the birth mother (such as a marriage certificate or a domestic partner document).
Final package. Submit your completed request package, including the documentation and forms, to your employer's insurance carrier.
More detailed instructions on how to apply for PFL are available on the New York State website.
The FMLA also gives employees the right to take unpaid time off to bond with a new child, whether biological, adopted, or foster. This is part of your total 12-week FMLA annual leave entitlement. So, if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have ten weeks left to use for parenting leave.
When your leave is over, you have the right, under both the FMLA and New York's paid family leave law, to be reinstated to your job.
During your time off, you have the right to continue your health insurance; you must, however, continue to pay any share of the premium you would have had to pay if you were working.
Updated May 10, 2022