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Do my employee rights allow for paid family leave?

In New York State and across the U.S., the concept of paid family leave is drawing renewed attention as part of the basic employee rights they are accorded. Many people are totally unaware that they might have the ability to take paid family leave. Some, if they try to do so, find themselves threatened with job loss or are fired outright. Knowing the basic rules for eligibility to have paid family leave is essential to being granted the right to take it without discrimination or fear of job loss.

Every employee in the state will have the ability to take paid family leave. Employees do not have the option not to take part. A public employer has the right to opt into the program. Public employees who are unionized can be covered if this is part of their collective bargaining agreement. To be eligible to have paid family leave, the employee must be employed fulltime for a minimum of 26 weeks or part-time for 175 days. An employee is not required to take all their vacation time or sick time to be eligible for paid family leave. The employer can allow the employee to use sick days or vacation time to receive full pay, but it is not required.

Parents who are expecting a child, are making an adoption or taking on a foster child can get up to eight weeks of paid family leave. This will begin after the child's birth and cannot be taken for prenatal issues. The parent can take the paid family leave within the first year after the child's birth, after a child has been adopted, or taken in as a foster child. Paid family leave can also be used to care for a sick relative. That includes a spouse, domestic partner, a child, a parent, a grandparent and more. It must be deemed a serious health condition that requires inpatient treatment or continuing treatment by a health care provider. Finally, paid family leave is available for those on active duty deployment in the military.

Paid family leave might not be widely understood, but it is a legal right. Those who believe they should have been granted paid family leave and were not or are in a dispute with an employer over it should understand their rights. It might be the basis for a legal filing. Discussing a case with an attorney experienced in employment law can help.

Source:, "Paid Family Leave: How it Works -- Eligibility," accessed on June 13, 2017

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