Family Leave Works New York

Self-Employed Workers

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Paid Family Leave in New York State

What does the paid family leave law do?

The law guarantees workers time off to bond with a new child (including adopted and foster children); care for a seriously ill family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, grandchild, or grandparent); or address certain military family needs.

What does it mean to be self-employed?

If you are an independent contractor, freelancer, own your own business (including an LLC, LLP, or sole proprietorship), or otherwise work for yourself rather than an employer, you may be considered “self-employed” under the law. However, you should know that businesses sometimes call people independent contractors who are actually employees under the law. If you think this might be your situation, give us a call at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

If I’m self-employed, am I covered?

If you’re self-employed, you are not automatically covered, but you can voluntarily choose to be covered by purchasing a paid family leave insurance plan. However, if you want to opt in, you should do so within the first 26 weeks of becoming self-employed; if you wait, you’ll need to pay for insurance for two years before you can use your benefits.

Where can I buy insurance?

The New York State Insurance Fund is offering policies for self-employed workers. Other carriers may also be offering policies. If you experience any problems with getting coverage, please call us at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

What if I missed the deadline to get coverage?

The deadline to opt in was on January 1, 2018 or within the first 26 weeks of becoming self-employed—whichever comes later. If you did not opt in by January 1, 2018 or within the first 26 weeks of becoming self-employed, you will need to pay for insurance for two years before you can use your benefits. If this is a problem for you or you are interested in advocating to change this rule, give us a call at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

How can I get coverage?

If you are self-employed and do not have any employees: you do not have to file any paperwork with the state or get pre-approved in order to opt in to paid family leave coverage. Instead, all you have to do is buy an insurance policy. This policy will include both disability and paid family leave coverage. You can decide whether to get state minimum disability coverage or a more robust disability plan.

If you are self-employed and have employees (for example, you run your own small business): the process is different. As an employer, you are probably required to provide paid family leave and disability coverage for your employees, but you yourself will not automatically be covered by that policy. If you want to get coverage for yourself, you will need to submit a form (available here) to the Workers’ Compensation Board for approval. Once you have done this, you should notify your insurance carrier.

How much will insurance cost?

The cost of paid family leave insurance is determined by a formula based on your income, which for self-employed workers will usually be calculated based on what you reported on your last tax return. At most, paid family leave coverage will cost $385.34 per year in 2021 (or about $7.41 per week) and $423.71 per year in 2022 (or about $8.15 per week). Because insurance rates are set by the state, the cost of paid family leave coverage will be the same no matter which insurance carrier you use. Temporary disability insurance will be a small additional cost.

When can I get coverage?

Right now. If you want to opt in, you must buy coverage within the first 26 weeks of becoming self-employed or face a 2-year waiting period. During the waiting period, you will have to pay for insurance coverage but will not be able to use benefits.

How much paid family leave can I take?

You can take up to twelve weeks of family leave. 

How much of my income can I get while I am on paid family leave?

You can receive 67% of your average weekly pay, up to a cap. In 2021, the cap is $971.61 per week. In 2022, the cap will be $1,068.36 per week.

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