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FMLA, DBL AND NYPFL – Which Leave Applies?

Among New York Paid Family Leave (NYPFL), Disability Benefits Law (DBL) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees have a lot to think about when they need to take time off. And so do employers. It can be tough to keep track of which programs apply when and how much time they offer. Employers need to understand what options employees have so they do not improperly deny benefits.

NYPFL provides paid time off to eligible employees to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, or to address family matters relating to a qualified military exigency.

DBL provides short term benefits to eligible employees who were injured or became ill and are unable to work.

FMLA provides unpaid time off to eligible employees (working for a covered employer) for an employee’s own serious health condition, to bond with a new child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to address family matters relating to a qualified military exigency.

To understand the options for leave and how different leave and disability programs can apply to different life events, let’s review a few different scenarios:

  • A pregnancy/new child scenario, including time-off options for a spouse or domestic partner

  • A caregiving situation where an employee needs to take care of a seriously ill grandparent

  • An employee has a serious health condition

  • An employee tests positive for COVID-19

Mary and John Are Having a Baby

Mary and John work full time in New York for different private employers, and they're expecting a baby in a month. Both of them meet the eligibility requirements for FMLA and NYPFL. Mary’s doctor has provided certification of her disability. When the baby is born, both parents want to take time off to bond with the baby and adjust to their new life.

What leave and disability options are available to them?

Mary has flexibility in the way she uses her time. For example:

  • She's eligible for FMLA for prenatal care and incapacity related to pregnancy and postpartum.

  • Mary had a natural delivery and used six weeks of disability and FMLA time after giving birth, and then she has six weeks of FMLA leave and 12 weeks of NYPFL for bonding purposes

  • She can use the remaining FMLA and NYPFL time continuously or intermittently.

John has 12 weeks of FMLA and 12 weeks of NYPFL available for bonding leave. These leaves would run concurrently (when taken in full day increments) and John can use this time continuously or intermittently, up until the time the baby reaches his/her first birthday.

Anna Helps Her Grandmother

Anna lives close to her grandmother, Susan, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Anna needs to take time off to provide care for Susan and take her to doctor and chemotherapy appointments. When Susan is ready for end-of-life care, Anna chooses to stay with her grandmother to provide hospice care at home. Anna meets the eligibility requirements for NYPFL and FMLA. Anna's leave options look like this:

Anna is unable to use FMLA to provide care for her grandmother because grandparents are not covered under FMLA as family members, but grandparents qualify as family members under NYPFL. Anna is able to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for her grandmother under NYPFL only.

Roger Needs Surgery

Roger needs knee replacement surgery. He will be out for six weeks during which time he will be out on DBL and FMLA. Both of these leaves run concurrently. He is not eligible for NYPFL as the leave is for himself and that is not covered under NYPFL.

Steven Tests Positive for COVID-19

Steven tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms. He is isolating for the required five days before returning to work. FMLA does not apply in this case as his case is not considered a serious health condition.

Navigating which leave applies, what required paperwork is needed for the leave to be approved, and the timely notifications that are required can be confusing. PMP can assist you with any questions that you may have and also can assist you with your leave management administration.


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