New York insurance brokers may be getting questions from customers about the New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) act, which went into effect September 30, 2020. However, employees cannot take paid sick leave through the state law until January 1, 2021, or at a time after that date if their employer requires them to accrue paid time off.
A direct result of the coronavirus pandemic to help contain the spread of the virus by encouraging employees to stay home, with pay, if they are not feeling well, the Paid Sick Leave Law mandates that employers of any size now provide paid sick leave to employees.
Unlike New York State DBL benefits or Paid Family Leave (PFL), New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) is funded entirely by employers through payroll. It is not an insurance benefit.
However, employers may have questions about when employees can use their paid sick leave and when they need to file a claim for DBL or PFL. It helps brokers to be aware of the new legislation to reduce unnecessary or unqualified DBL and PFL claims in New York.
The duration of NYSSL is much shorter than New York State’s short-term disability coverage or PFL coverage.
Here are a few other differences between the three types of leave:
DBL or enriched DBL insurance provides partial pay to employees who are seriously ill or injured and cannot perform their normal job functions for up to 26 weeks. The DBL Center can help you bind DBL & Enriched coverage under 50 lives easily online here.
Written as a mandatory rider to statutory DBL coverage, PFL in New York provides partial pay to employees taking time off to care for an ill family member, a newborn (or newly adopted or newly fostered) child within the first year, or to manage family matters while a military spouse is deployed. The maximum duration for Paid Family Leave is 12 weeks. Learn more about New York State PFL coverage, first introduced in 2017, here.
Introduced in September 2020 and going into effect on January 1, 2021, Paid Sick Leave provides full pay for up to 56 hours (in some cases) for employees who are:
The New York State Sick Leave law (NYSSL) also covers a host of other circumstances for which employees may need time off, including:
The reason for Paid Family Leave or DBL must be documented on the appropriate claims form. On the other hand, the reasons for taking NYSSL can remain confidential. Employers may not require employees to disclose any confidential information regarding their need for sick time.
In addition, the definition of a family member as it relates to paid sick leave extends beyond the PFL definition to include siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, and the children or parents of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.
Business owners in New York have a choice to “frontload” employees’ sick time at the beginning of the calendar year, offering paid sick leave from day one that the benefit goes into effect (January 1, 2021). Or, employers may permit employees to accrue sick time at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 or 56 hours in total – depending on the company size.
Employers with at least 100 employees must provide 56 hours paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than 100 employees or fewer than five employees but a net income of $1 million for the prior tax year must provide 40 hours paid sick leave.
Businesses with fewer than five employees but less than $1 million in net income must allow 40 hours of unpaid sick leave with no disciplinary action permitted for employees who take that time off without pay.
The decision for an employee to take paid sick time or to file a DBL or PFL claim largely comes down to the duration of the time off required and, of course, the reason. See below:
Until now, Paid Time Off remained the choice of New York State business owners. Many companies provided generous PTO while others didn’t. Some small business didn’t even have a written policy but trusted their workers not to take unnecessary time off.
By standardizing PTO under the NYSSL, and outlining specific permissible reasons for sick time, New York State has eliminated confusion, miscommunication, or gray areas surrounding PTO.
By understanding the new law, you can help your customers reduce unnecessary DBL or PFL claims and continue to act as a resource for them when it comes to managing employee benefits.
by Dawn Allcot
Insurance brokers across Massachusetts have an opportunity to increase their commissions and better serve Massachusetts business owners through the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act.
By helping your customers privatize Massachusetts PFML before October 1, you can offer premium discounts plus defer fourth quarter premium payments until January 1, 2020.
Here’s what you need to know about the important October 1, 2020 deadline approaching for business owners who want to write privatized paid family medical leave in Massachusetts.
Business owners must pay PFML premiums on policies written by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by October 1, 2020. As we still battle the pandemic, many business owners continue to struggle with revenue, paying rent, or even making payroll. Some companies remain closed or at half-capacity right now. If there was ever a time to defer a mandatory expense, it’s now.
If your customers privatize Massachusetts PFML now, they don’t have to deduct payroll taxes for MA PFML premiums for 2020 until January 1, 2021.
Combined with the Paycheck Protection Program portion of the CARES Act, which permits business owners to defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s portion of Social Security taxes through December 31, 2020, this deferment can help free up cash for Massachusetts business owners at a time they need it most.
With no signature requirements or red tape, applying for a private plan exemption in Massachusetts is easy. As a broker, you can:
But only if you act now. After January 1, 2021, brokers can still write a private plan with faster, more flexible payments and better service. But premium rates will be the same as the state plan.
As Kelvin Joseph of Kool Kel Marketing stated in a recent interview, “Right now, businesses are looking to increase their revenue and reduce their expenses. [DBL Center] has a way to save people money.”
As a DBL Center broker, you can take advantage of our industry knowledge, connections, and relationships with top-rated carriers to save your customers money while providing superior service with DBL Center as your back-office staff.
As in New York and New Jersey, Paid Family and Medical Leave plans in Massachusetts must provide benefits equal to or better than the state plan. If you could get the same (or better) product at the same (or lower) price, wouldn’t you?
It makes switching to a private plan a no-brainer, especially with The DBL Center here to help your customers get the lowest premiums available.
As of January 1, 2021, Massachusetts will join New York to offer paid family leave benefits for employees to care for:
Beginnning July 1, 2021, PFML in MA will also cover time off to care for any family member with a serious health condition.
For brokers across the New England region, working with The DBL Center offers many advantages to help you provide outstanding service to your customers as they navigate the confusing terrain of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.
We act as your back office staff to manage policies, collect premiums, and even track down late payments for you.
Our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker provides all the information you need to manage your business, giving you access to renewals, cancellations, and commissions at a glance.
Massachusetts business owners may not want to think about another mandatory expense during the pandemic. They need brokers like you on their side to help them save money and receive the superior service they deserve. Reach out to The DBL Center today to help your customers privatize state mandated benefits under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.
by Michael Cohen
We’re living in unprecedented times and federal, state, and local governments are looking for ways to adapt. Seeking a balance between regulations and budget, legislation has sought to help Americans keep their businesses open and their employees paid through the vast challenges 2020 has brought us.
Most business owners in New York, along with insurance brokers and other professionals, have concerns about keeping our economy going. Increasing NY disability insurance rates for statutory DBL coverage might be the last thing on people’s minds. But it’s something those of us in the insurance industry should be thinking about.
NY State Disability Insurance benefits, or DBL, has not increased in decades. With a maximum payout of $170 per week, NYS DBL lags behind New Jersey TDB benefits, and even Massachusetts and Connecticut. The latter two states recently introduced statutory paid leave for non-work related illness or injury.
The last thing New York business owners would want to face right now is a premium increase for any benefits. Many New York City landmarks have shuttered as a result of recent events, and mom-and-pop shops in Main Street areas across upstate and downstate New York have closed permanently or struggle to stay alive.
But an increase in NY state disability insurance pay-outs could yield benefits to employers in the long run, especially as we face uncertainty related to the pandemic. Will DBL claims rise if we see a second wave of the virus? Will the government be so quick to offer Federal aid packages the second time around? Will businesses, already hard hit by recent events, be able to mount a second comeback? No one knows the answers to these questions.
When the first wave of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, hit, the Federal government intervened with the Families First Act. The FFA alleviated much of the pressure on insurance carriers who otherwise would have faced unprecedented levels of claims because of COVID-19.
Here at The DBL Center, we also sprung to action. Our COVID-19 pre-screening software helped eliminate confusion regarding NY State Disability Insurance claims and FFA claims.
If the Federal government had not signed the FFA to help Americans with income replacement if they became ill from COVID-19 or had to care for family members with the virus, disability insurance carriers and brokers may have experienced a situation similar to what P&C brokers in the northeast experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Business owners and the insurance industry, alike, were not set up to respond to an emergency of this scale. Our country was not prepared; but perhaps there is no effective way to prepare for a global pandemic.
Many people reading this, even our brokers who are tapped into the industry, don’t realize that the governor initially had plans to increase DBL benefits when he introduced Paid Family Leave. A short-term disability insurance increase was in the original legislation, but removed before the Paid Family Leave Act was signed.
Increasing NY state disability insurance benefits will help business owners retain high-quality talent, which is a challenge in any economy. New York City, especially, is suffering from “brain drain,” or young, smart, and affluent couples leaving the city. Reports say five percent of Manhattan’s population fled the city between March 1 and May 1 at the height of the pandemic. Further, 69% of tech and finance employees said they would leave New York if they could work from home.
This exodus began years prior to the pandemic because of real estate prices, but was exacerbated this spring.
No, increased DBL may not tip the scales, but having peace-of-mind that you can survive on your disability insurance benefits should you become ill with coronavirus could give many New Yorkers one less reason to leave. Couple that with the most robust PFL policy in the nation, and New York becomes a more family-friendly state.
It’s a good time to make legislation changes right now. New Yorkers have become accustomed to rapid change and increased benefits, including the $600 Federal boost in unemployment benefits.
As always, because it is a shared benefit, DBL represents one way business owners can provide added value to their top employees at a small cost.
Until the time comes that NY State disability insurance benefits rise, business owners can purchase private disability insurance in New York. DBL Center brokers can offer their customers increased benefits through enriched DBL, white-glove service, and faster, more flexible payouts.
What do you think? Is it time for NY to increase their disability insurance benefits?
As New York begins its phased reopening, many employers seek to call back workers on furlough or re-hire employees who have been laid off. Employers may also be looking for ways to reduce expenses as they come off possibly the roughest financial quarter New York businesses have faced in decades.
Now, more than ever, your clients are looking to save money and improve retention (or entice employees back to work). Enriching DBL benefits through private disability insurance in New York is one way your customers can:
The New York State Disability Benefits Law (DBL) gives employers the option to purchase NY state disability insurance through the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF). But writing policies through the NYSIF does not offer the advantages of private disability insurance. New York businesses who write DBL with the NYSIF max out coverage limits at $170 a week for 26 weeks. Who could live on that, especially in downstate New York?
When employers write NY Disability Benefits insurance through a private insurance carrier, they can enhance coverage limits past the state minimum, improve employee retention, and enjoy more personalized service. Additionally, DBL Center has relationships with multiple carriers, to offer a wide range of coverage options.
The DBL Center has been helping NY insurance brokers write private disability insurance in New York for more than 40 years. Our instant binding application helps you prepare quotes from multiple carriers in a matter of minutes.
You can bundle enriched NY state disability insurance (DBL) with ancillary benefits like vision, dental, and group life / AD&D for added savings. Plus, you’ll gain access to our state-of-the-art Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, helping you keep sight of it all with just a click.
Compare rates, grow your book of business, and earn more commission while DBL Center serves as your back-office support staff to manage and maintain your policies.
Bind your application for NY disability insurance (DBL) today!
Within the first few days of the coronavirus pandemic and the New York On Pause order, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen felt the same as many of those in the insurance business did.
“When I first got news of this being a reality in New York, which is now a hot spot, I felt like I was back up against a wall,” he recalls. “I was nervous.”
He sprung to action immediately, though. He took what he learned from his decades in the statutory insurance industry and his knowledge of what technology can accomplish to create a solution to slow the onslaught of PFL claims. “I felt I had to do something to mitigate the claims,” Cohen says.
Within days of schools and businesses closing across New York State, and shortly after, through Massachusetts and New Jersey, Cohen and The DBL Center launched the COVID-19 Pre-Screening Software for PFL Claims.
A tool for insurance carriers to manage PFL claims that may not qualify, the COVID-19 pre-screening software requires employers to answer a series of questions to determine if their PFL claim is valid before requesting a claim form from the carrier. Many statutory PFL claims actually qualify for federal help under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was enacted April 2, 2020.
The DBL Center also created a document to help show when an employee may qualify for PFL and when an employee would qualify for FFCRA aid, instead.
“Even though the changes related to PFL and FMLA [in Massachusetts] have been clearly stated, you’re still going to have some confusion at the employer level in terms of what is a valid COVID claim and what is not a valid COVID claim,” says Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, one of DBL Center’s many preferred carriers. “I thought the software was perfect for that scenario.”
He added that he also sees it having long-term applications once the pandemic ends. “In general, it can help cut down on some of the administrative costs that we incur, and that others occur, taking in paper claims. I bet the industry still sees the majority of our claims in paper form, versus electronic, and this is a good first step to enter the electronic environment. It’s something the industry could use, because it pre-qualifies a lot of claims upfront.”
The Broker Dashboard Net Revenue Tracker was the first technological innovation from The DBL Center, an electronic version of the paper and pen ledger that Founder David Cohen brought to every meeting.
Designed specifically for DBL Center brokers, the Broker Dashboard helps agencies track cancellations and pending cancellations, new policies, and commissions, at a glance. A cloud-based app that gives brokers actionable insights to improve retention rates, the Broker Dashboard brings David Cohen’s paper ledger into the digital age and delivers it to the hands of every broker.
Michael Pellegrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative, reminisced about the way DBL Center tracked revenue when he first entered the industry. “I remember I’d come into your father’s office,” he tells Michael Cohen in the latest Rep Roundtable video. “He’d put down his pen and paper. He was keeping everything in order, but how time-consuming it must have been. “The fact that you took that pen and paper ledger and made that electronic is awesome!”
In addition to discussing the technology that sets The DBL Center apart, Cohen, Callery, and Pellegrino reminisce about summer get-togethers and talk about how the economy and the industry have changed in the past 20 years. Michael Cohen also reveals his secret to surviving the pandemic … all in the latest Rep Roundtable, brought to you by The DBL Center.
Things are changing rapidly across the country with new legislation related to PFL for coronavirus. Besides maintaining our position as one of the top insurance wholesalers in New York (and beyond), we are striving to be your COVID-19 insurance resource center in New York and across the northeast U.S.
Even before COVID-19 hit the U.S., the DBL Center had been on top of changing paid family leave benefits in Massachusetts and Connecticut – leading to relationships with brokers in new regions.
Whether you’ve been part of the DBL Center family for decades or have recently started writing your policies through us, we compiled a list of 10 things we bet you didn’t know about DBL Center, one of the top insurance wholesalers in New York, serving the tri-state area, New England, and insurance brokers across the U.S.
1. DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard app makes it easy to remotely manage policies wherever you’re working.
By now, most insurance brokers in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have transitioned to remote work as part of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders from the governors in their states.
As a cloud-based app, DBL Center’s Broker Dashboard makes it easy for our brokers to log in from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection. We introduced our Broker Dashboard three years ago to make it easier for brokers to manage their policies in a world just beginning to embrace a mobile workforce.
Now, the Broker Dashboard has become an essential tool during the pandemic, enabling brokers to continue to bind policies and manage accounts while they practice social distancing and work from home.
2. When you bind DBL / PFL in real time, it is automatically linked to your personalized Broker Dashboard.
Even as we fight COVID-19, business continues. Brokers can bind DBL and PFL in real time through our website and new accounts are automatically linked to your personalized Broker Dashboard for easy remote management.
3. DBL Center brokers receive customized Broker Dashboard reports of renewals, cancellations and reinstated policies every two weeks, making it easier to track what you earn – and what you keep.
Reports are automatically emailed on the first and 15th of every month, enabling you to provide your customers with proactive service and also see where your book of business stands at a glance.
4. DBL Center’s chat feature makes it easy to reach a knowledgeable DBL Center rep to answer questions or write policies at any time.
Pandemic or not, we are here to answer your questions and help you bind new policies. You can start a chat with us any time, from any page of our website. Get answers to questions about new legislation related to coronavirus, insurance claims during the pandemic, or anything else related to PFL or DBL in your state.
5. In the past three years, DBL has expanded its offerings from NY, NJ and Hawaii into Massachusetts and Connecticut as a result of new Paid Family Leave policies.
Our home state of New York set the precedent for generous Paid Family Leave policies three years ago and DBL Center was at the forefront of helping brokers transition to DBL policies with PFL riders. Now, we are here to help Connecticut and Massachusetts brokers write Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage in their own states.
6. DBL Center is your go-to source for ever-changing COVID-19 legislation as it relates to paid leave and disability benefits.
We recently launched a COVID-19 resource center for brokers writing DBL and PFL in New York. We were one of the first in our industry to report on the federal Families First Act and how it will affect insurance claims. We are working virtually round-the-clock to provide updated news and information as it happens.
7. DBL Center’s COVID-19 Claim Pre-screening software can save brokers time by weeding out ineligible PFL or DBL Claims related to the coronavirus.
Many people are trying to make PFL claims due to the coronavirus. But the legislation is very specific as to who qualifies for PFL during the coronavirus. Our pre-screening software saves brokers time by enabling business owners, HR representatives, and individuals determine if they or their employees qualify for PFL as a result of coronavirus. In many cases, the answer is no and they should be applying for aid through the Families First Act or filing for unemployment.
8. DBL Center’s video series, Rep Roundtable, spotlights top insurance carriers discussing industry trends.
Our highly regarded video series helps you get to know the people behind the policies you write, follow emerging industry trends, and get ideas to improve your business.
9. DBL Center is a second-generation, family-owned business founded by David Cohen and now owned by his son Michael Cohen.
David Cohen launched the DBL Center in 1976. Michael Cohen took over as President and CEO after his father’s passing. Michael has expanded the business to provide FMLA coverage in Massachusetts. He has also introduced state-of-the-art technology making it even easier for brokers to “keep more of what they earn,” in the words of the late David Cohen.
10. DBL Center is your white-label, white-glove back office team to get your customers the lowest premiums and best service.
David Cohen started The DBL Center based on a business model that followed the boutique hotels he loved to visit on vacations, delivering white-glove, concierge-level service to brokers in a way that was unprecedented at the time.
David Cohen’s legacy lives on in the creativity, vibrancy, and innovation Michael brings to the company. DBL Center continues to deliver the same level of customer service as it always has, leveraging carrier relationships and cutting-edge technology to provide brokers with the lowest premiums available and the highest levels of service.
In an attempt to keep the economy moving and provide Americans with the financial relief they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal government has introduced the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”
Beginning April 2, this act provides emergency paid sick leave benefits to employees unable to work for a variety of reasons. Employees may be eligible for paid leave if they are unable to work because they are:
Employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide two weeks’ worth of paid sick leave. Employers will receive tax credits to offset these costs, hopefully minimizing the financial impact on their business.
Employees are also entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick time at 2/3 the regular rate of pay, and an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave if the employee is unable to work because they need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s important to note that this paid leave coverage is from the federal government and is not related to NYS PFL.
The legislation also ensures that employees do not have to use any other paid time off in lieu of federal paid leave benefits. Employers also cannot mandate that employees find replacement workers.
Until April 2 when Families First goes into action, New York State has stepped in to help employees with COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave, compensated in many cases through New York State DBL and PFL benefits. To help employees stay afloat during this challenging time, the state has waived the five-day waiting period before PFL benefits kick in.
Employers with fewer than 10 workers and less than $1 million in annual net income will still rely on DBL and PFL benefits for their employees, paid concurrently for a combined $2,884.62.
Those with 10 or fewer employees but net revenue exceeding $1 million, or employers with 11 to 99 employees must provide workers with at least 5 days paid sick leave, not counting any PTO they have accrued in the past. After that, employees can make a concurrent PFL / DBL claim for paid leave from Day 6 onward.
Businesses with 100+ employees and public employers are fully responsible for full salary continuation for a minimum of 14 days.
PFL programs only pay out for the intended duration of the quarantine period, which is 14 days. However, if the employee has not exhausted their paid leave from New York State by April 2, those benefits will end regardless. Employees will have to file a federal claim to begin collecting benefits again, this time under the Families First Act. Benefits under the Families First Act apply to companies with fewer than 500 employees.
It is not easy balancing the economic well-being of our nation with the health and safety of our residents. It’s a challenge many business owners grapple with, as well, during this trying time.
In addition to lowering the federal interest rate, the U.S. government has introduced – or is in the process of introducing — legislation that will help small and large businesses stay afloat while we fight the pandemic with social distancing and isolation.
Last week, the Federal Reserve introduced the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, a program that lends money to banks to purchase assets from money market funds. Lending will not affect bank capital requirements, according to finance site Investopedia.
The government also introduced the Term Asset-Backed Security Loan Facility (TALF), enabling the purchase of asset-backed securities backed by auto loans, student loans, and small business loans to unfreeze credit and help stabilize the economy throughout the pandemic and during the economic recovery period afterwards. These measures will run until September 30, 2020, unless they are extended at that time.
The Fed is also working on a Main Street Business Lending Program. We will reveal details as they become available.
Ultimately, avenues will be available to keep large and small businesses afloat and give them access to the funds they need through loans and tax credits. Here at DBL Center, we will do our best to keep you apprised of changing legislation as it pertains to our brokers and their customers.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and know that the DBL Center is here, as always, to serve as your back-office staff as we get through these trying times together – remotely.