New York now has the 'best paid family leave' provision in the country: 12 weeks
Posted April 12, 2016
Updated April 14, 2016
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed a spending packaging that includes the nation's most generous family leave package — and it will not be up to employers to pay for it.
Employees nationally are guaranteed up to 12 weeks off to care for a family member in the event of a birth, illness or other approved situation, but the Family Medical Leave Act doesn't include a provision for paid leave, which is a rarity in America. And it only covers those who work in companies with at least 50 employees.
The New York provision includes partial payment of one's salary, funded not by employers, but by employees who each contribute a little in the form of a payroll tax.
According to the Wall Street Journal (possible paywall), the agreement "enacts a 12-week paid-family-leave plan for individuals caring for a baby, a family member with a serious health condition or 'to relieve family pressures' when a family member is called to active military service. The plan, which grants the longest leave in the U.S., would be available to employees who have worked for their employer for at least six months."
The article quotes Cuomo: “It’s basic and simple: We don’t live at work, we live at home with families and we should have the capacity to be there when the family needs you.”
The spending package also includes a graduated increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Slate expanded on how the family leave policy will work: "Beginning in 2018, all full- and part-time employees who’ve been working at their jobs for at least six months will have access to up to eight weeks of leave at half their salaries. The policy, which will be funded by employees through payroll deductions, will gradually phase up over four years to 12 weeks and a maximum of two-thirds of the state’s average wage. It also guarantees job protection for all workers who take leave, even those who work for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, which are not subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act."
Continues Slate reporter Christina Cauterucci, "With this new policy, New York joins California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island on the elite list of U.S. states that offer guaranteed paid leave to hang out with a new baby, bond with an adopted or foster child, or care for a sick family member. Rhode Island offers four weeks of partial pay and New Jersey and California offer six, placing New York far ahead of the pack, though it still trails most other countries in the world when it comes to maternity leave."
Massachusetts and Connecticut are also considering paid-leave bills.
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