What is Paid Family Leave (PFL)?
Paid Family Leave (PFL) income is money you receive from your employer, an insurer, or the government while you are away from work for an extended period of time so you can recover from a serious health issue, take care of a seriously ill family member, or bond with your newborn or newly adopted child.
In the United States, employers who offer PFL are the exception rather than the rule. PFL is usually only available through larger employers, if it is offered at all. For this reason a small but growing number of states, most notably California, have enacted PFL legislation.
Is sick pay the same as PFL?
Generally, no. Sick pay is usually reserved for short, health-related absences, for example a cold or flu, staying home to care for a child who is normally in school, or recovering from minor outpatient or dental procedures.
However, third-party sick pay differs from "regular" sick pay in that it is paid by somebody other than the employer (usually an insurance company that specializes in this kind of coverage for employers). Because third-party sick pay is almost always used for absences of a longer duration, it generally fits the definition of PFL.
What about medical leave or short-term/long-term disability?
Pay you receive from your employer, an insurer, or the government during the time you are unable to work due to a serious illness or injury is considered PFL income.
For example, if you are still getting paid while away from work for a long period of time due to major surgery, serious injury, chemotherapy, or pregnancy complications, you are receiving PFL pay.
Typically, companies that offer paid medical leave or disability do so through a third party insurer. You may receive a W-2 from that insurer to report the PFL income you received during the time you were out, or you may see the income reported as third-party sick pay on your regular W-2.
Is maternity or parental leave considered PFL?
If you are getting paid during your leave, yes. Unpaid maternity or parental leave is not PFL.
Is bereavement pay considered PFL?
No. Paid time off work due to the death of an immediate family member does not fit the definition of PFL.
What about FMLA?
The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, entitles eligible employees to take an unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 12 workweeks in a 12-month period for family- and medical-related reasons.
Because FMLA is unpaid, it does not fit the definition of PFL.