How do employers determine whether an employee is eligible for New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) on account of a so-called serious health condition?

Just because a family member’s illness seems serious to an employee doesn’t mean the illness qualifies for PFL. That’s because PFL defines a serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that requires hospitalization, hospice care, or a stay in residential health care facility. Some other conditions likely will qualify as a serious health condition if they require continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.

Several factors determine whether a condition requires such continuing treatment or supervision. Generally, a condition qualifies if it causes the person to miss work or school or otherwise be unable to perform regular daily activities for more than 3 full days in a row, and the person undergoes a continuing treatment regimen or receives multiple treatments for the condition.

These requirements differ for serious health conditions that are chronic; however, as a chronic serious health condition requires periodic treatment over an extended period of time and has the potential to cause episodes of incapacity.

In short, not all illnesses qualify as a serious health condition. It comes as no surprise, then, that an employee can’t take a PFL day every time his child stays home from school with a cold or his spouse misses work because she has the flu.

Your PFL insurance carrier will decide whether your employee’s request qualifies for PFL. But to avoid employee frustration and needless requests for leave, it’s a good idea to educate employees about what types of illnesses and conditions qualify. Setting expectations early can help reduce frustration later and make for a more productive workforce.

Our attorneys can help create effective and engaging workplace trainings and seminars.