Paid Family Leave has changed the modern workplace for many New York businesses. In a blink, New York companies became more family-friendly and flexible, setting standards with one of the most generous PFL policies in the country.

But what about employees left behind while their co-workers took leave to bond with a newborn or care for an ill, aging, or disabled family member?

As a New York broker, you have a unique opportunity to help your clients improve retention and company morale by addressing the demographic that is least likely to need family leave benefits but may be left behind to pick up the slack for employees on leave.

For companies who already had a generous maternity policy in place, it is probably business as usual. But companies who have never provided maternity leave for employees may have faced some challenges through the first year of PFL, which insurance brokers can help them address.

“New York businesses should explore company operations and their existing employee benefits packages to develop a plan to help keep all employees, not just those who may be eligible for PFL, engaged and happy with what the company offers,” says DBL Center President Michael Cohen.

Who’s Covering the Job Duties of Employees on PFL?

When an employee informs announces they will be taking PFL – or when managers first discover that an employee or their spouse is expecting a baby – it’s time to develop a contingency plan for those who will be picking up the slack.

Planning ahead is crucial so employees don’t feel put upon. In most cases with PFL coverage – as opposed to DBL which is available when an employee is injured or ill – employers have plenty of warning. They may not know the exact date a worker will go on leave. But the expectant parent can begin training their co-workers two-to-three months before the expected due date or adoption day to minimize frustration and ensure the employees understand how their new role will mesh with their existing duties.

Consider Who’s Using PFL – And Who Isn’t

Last year, 76.7% of people who used PFL through DBL carrier Shelterpoint took leave to care for a newborn baby or newly adopted child. Another 23.2% used it to care for a disabled, ill, or aging family member, and 0.1% used it to hold down the fort while a military spouse was deployed.

Now, let’s look at who is less likely to take PFL benefits. In general, baby boomers, millennial or GenX couples not planning to have children, and (for now) most GenZ employees just entering the workforce won’t have any need for PFL.

While Baby Boomers and child-free couples may not seem like a large percentage of the workplace, let’s consider some recent statistics:

• People aged 55+ took 1.4 million of the 2.9 million new jobs in 2018
• 39.2% of Americans ages 55-and-up were working in 2018
• 65.5% of 55- to 64-year-olds are still in the workforce, and 19.6 percent of 65+ are still working, too
• Boomers and the Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1945) made up 27% of the workforce in 2017, according to PEW Research

Boomers possess massive amounts of knowledge and experience in the workplace. Because of that knowledge and experience, they are well-equipped to help pick up the slack when their co-workers take PFL. “It’s important to make employees feel appreciated for their extra work, and there are many ways to do this,” Cohen says. “Enriching mandatory DBL can give employers the most bang for their buck and provide employees with an important benefit that will give them peace-of-mind if they become ill or injured.”

Enrich NYS DBL Coverage

The first step is for brokers to help customers examine their existing employee benefits packages. Current mandatory NY State DBL coverage only gives employees a maximum of $170 per week for 26 weeks. Very few people can live on that in New York, especially in the New York metro area.

Employers can enrich DBL coverage to pay up to 50% of an employee’s salary up to $850 per week up to 26 weeks. This puts DBL coverage on pace with PFL. In fact, enriched DBL can exceed current PFL pay-outs, which max out at 55% of an employee’s average weekly salary for 8 weeks, with a maximum benefit of $746.41 per week.

Your customers can also add Hospital Cash indemnity insurance through Shelterpoint to give hospitalized employees who are collecting DBL an additional $165 per day ($240 in NY metro areas) with no cap for the number of continuous days of coverage. Patients staying in Skilled Nursing Facilities receive the same benefit level, limited to a stay of 5 consecutive days.

“Compared to neighboring New Jersey, New York’s statutory disability benefits package is lacking,” Cohen says. “Enriching DBL benefits has always been a good idea to help attract top talent and increase retention. In light of PFL, it’s more important than ever before. It’s up to brokers to educate employers, creating a win-win situation, increasing commissions for brokers while creating happier customers.”

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