Press Release

Press Release: New York Businesses Support Paid Family Leave

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23, 2016
Contact: Kenneth Londono, kenneth.londono@berlinrosen.com, 646-335-0420

New York Employers Speak Out, Call on Legislature to Pass a Twelve-Week, Employee-Funded Paid Family Leave Program in the Budget

Small Business Owners Say Paid Family Leave Would Give Them a Competitive Advantage – without Hurting Their Bottom Line

Albany, NY – Business owners from across the state spoke out today in support of paid family leave, urging the legislature to pass a strong bill in the upcoming budget.

The New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign released a list of over one hundred business owners — the majority of whom are small businesses — and associations that have signed on in support of a paid family leave proposal that would create an employee-funded expansion of the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance Program (TDI) to provide all employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to welcome a new baby or care for a seriously ill family member. The associations together represent tens of thousands of New York businesses, with more businesses and associations signing on every day. The full list of current business supporters can be found here.
 

 

Small businesses – including a Johnstown business with three employees, a Troy business with twelve employees, and a Saratoga business with ten employees – testified that a statewide, employee-funded paid family leave program would level the playing field for New York employers.

For small businesses that can’t afford to offer the same paid family leave benefits as larger companies, an employee-funded program would give them a competitive advantage in hiring and retaining talent. The experience of other states has shown how paid family leave strengthens small businesses – one year after Rhode Island’s paid family leave law went into effect, a majority of small employers reported they were in favor of the program.

“While I can be flexible to allow my employees time off for a new baby or seriously ill family member, I can’t afford to pay them. An employee-funded paid family leave insurance program would allow my employees to take the time they need in such situations without jeopardizing their job or the slim profitability of my business,” said Laura Kerrone, Psychedelicatessen, Troy (10-12 employees).

“There has been a great deal of fear mongering about paid family leave and its impact on small business. Some people will assert that regulations and programs like paid family leave will drive small businesses out of New York. But running a small business is like heading up a family. I know all the ups and downs of each of my employee’s lives, and I can’t pretend that pregnancy and new babies, and accidents and elderly parents are not a normal part of people’s lives. I actually thought seriously about moving to Burlington, Vermont because of the benefits I would be able to offer my employees in that state that I can’t provide here. Paid family leave is way overdue and I can’t wait to offer it to my workers. Don’t carve me out!” said Tarah Gay, Outdated Cafe, Kingston (11-25 employees).

The Community Service Society premiered a video series featuring some of the many business owners across New York who support paid family leave, explaining in their own words why it is good for their business. Featured employers include:

  • Nance Shatzkin, President of Shatzkin Systems, a very small health systems consulting firm in Westchester County with about 10 employees. She points out how paid family leave legislation will not only help her provide a benefit that she cannot afford to offer now, but will help her raise wages above $15/hour.
     
  • Frank Garcia, President and CEO of GoGreen Technology, a “green” business services company with 7 employees, and head of the NYS Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. As an advocate for minority-owned businesses, he supports paid family leave. 
     
  • Ted Doudak, CEO and President of Riva Jewelry, a precision jewelry manufacturing firm that employs about 140-200 workers in Brooklyn. He supports paid family leave because it leads to a stable workforce that is a key to his business’s success.
     
  • David Bolotsky, founder and CEO of Brooklyn-based online and catalog retailer Uncommon Goods, explains why paid family leave is not only the right thing to do, but has no cost to employers.


"Today the Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign is releasing a list of over 100 mostly small business owners, along with six business associations that together represent thousands of businesses, who have signed on in support of a 12 week employee-funded paid family leave proposal that covers all size businesses. The businesses joining us today are determined to raise their voices in saying that they value their employees and want to see a strong paid family leave bill come out of budget negotiations, since it will relieve the financial hardship their workers currently experience when they need to take time off to care for a new baby or to be with a dying parent, and it makes them more competitive with larger businesses that are able to afford this benefit," said Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition.

“The voices of the business owners in the video tell the real story: most of New York’s small businesses want to be part of an employee-funded paid family leave insurance program because it will help—not hurt—their success,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research at Community Service Society.

“I am very encouraged that both the Senate and Assembly budget resolutions reflect a strong commitment to enacting a comprehensive and long-overdue paid family leave policy this year.  The momentum continues to grow,” said NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., the Senate sponsor of comprehensive paid family leave legislation (S.3004/A.3870).  “If we can come together in the Senate and Assembly, join across political party lines, work out the final details, and adopt a real paid family leave program, New York State will have taken a giant step in helping its families balance their pressing responsibilities on the work front with their equally important obligations on the home front. I look forward to seeing this goal – which will also provide employers with a more loyal and productive work force – become a reality.”

“Paid leave will strengthen our state’s economy,” said David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, which has a member network spanning more than 250,000 businesses nationally. “Many of our members, in New York State and across the country, already provide paid leave because they know it is good for their business. Business prospers when there is a growing middle class. Paid leave and other high road employment policies help us build that into our economy.”

“Successful businesses depend heavily on their employees,” said Mark Jaffe, an attorney and CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which provides services to over 30,000 businesses and civic leaders.  “That’s why it makes sense to set up a statewide mechanism for businesses of all sizes to provide paid leave, enabling employees to be paid when family duties call. This all-American value is one that most of our members can agree on, especially if there are little or no additional costs to employers.”

"Businesses from Buffalo to Binghamton and Albany to Long Island recognize that their employees are their greatest asset and the costs of retraining replacements are significant. That's why thousands of businesses that are members of organizations like ours support paid family leave," said Laura Ornstein, Coordinator of the New York State Sustainable Business Council. "Since workers would no longer have to choose between quitting their job or losing pay to help a sick family member, the reduction in turnover and boost in productivity and job loyalty would help businesses cut costs."

Lou Gordon, Director of the Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY), said, “More than ever, employment practices are out of pace with working families. Today the majority of parents of young children both men and women, work. Trends show that these working families are also increasingly responsible for elderly or disabled relatives. Without a paid family leave policy, young parents often feel forced to return to work before their children are ready to be without a parent. The Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY) supports passage of paid family leave for New Yorkers.”

Greg Young is a new business organizer working with Citizen Action of New York and the Main Street Alliance. He is the son of a small business owner and is an elected member of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors. "I have really enjoyed the opportunity to have conversations with business owners in the Greater Capital Region about paid family leave," said Young. "When I can get a few minutes of their time, and outline the proposed insurance program, most of them understand immediately why it is both necessary and achievable. Some of the strongest advocates for paid family leave in the state are standing here today."

The paid family leave proposals being considered by the legislature are employer friendly. Paid family leave benefits would be 100% paid for by employees, with zero out-of pocket contribution by employers. And because employers aren’t paying wages to the employee on leave, employers can use that money, if necessary, to pay for any temporary replacement costs or additional hours from other employees. The benefit would also require no additional administrative burden, as it would be administered within our state’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) system that is familiar to all employers. See answers to FAQ’s on paid family leave here.


Paid family leave would not hurt businesses’ bottom line – in fact, the experiences of employers in states that already have similar laws show that paid family leave can help. In California, 92.8% of employers reported that paid family leave had a positive or neutral effect on employee turnover, saving employers the costly step of replacing an existing employee. A majority of California employers also reported positive or neutral effects on productivity, profitability/performance, and morale.

New Yorkers can no longer afford to wait. An estimated 6.4 million New York State workers do not have access to paid family leave, and are forced to choose between their families’ health and economic stability when a new child arrives or a family member suffers from a serious illness. The New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign is calling for the immediate passage of a strong bill that provides all private sector workers, regardless of where they are employed, with 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave at 2/3 of their weekly wage.

The New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign consists of a diverse group of women's organizations, children's advocates, labor and public health leaders, advocates for seniors and those with chronic disease, and community and faith-based organizations. The New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign's Steering Committee consists of 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU, A Better Balance, Citizen Action of New York, Community Service Society, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Paid Leave Coalition, the NYS AFL-CIO and the Working Families Organization.

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