New York State Acts on Paid Family Leave

David R. Jones

CSS Applauds Today’s Action by New York State Creating the Most Robust Paid Family Leave Law in the Country

Today the New York State legislature will pass the nation’s strongest paid family legislation, which after an initial phase-in period will provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave with benefits replacing two-thirds of a worker’s lost wages. The Community Service Society (CSS) applauds Governor Cuomo, our legislative champions, fellow members of the New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign and countless New Yorkers who fought so hard for today’s victory.  This momentous action will ensure that hard-working New Yorkers who need to care for a new baby, a seriously ill relative, or attend to needs related to a family member’s military deployment can now do so without fear of losing their jobs or putting their economic stability at risk.

By enacting this law, New York is taking a crucial step forward in modernizing our workplace policies so they recognize the difficult, sometimes nearly impossible challenges workers face meeting both work and family responsibilities.

Under the new law, starting in 2018, an estimated 7.9 million private sector workers will be eligible for paid family leave after six months on the job. The law will cover all sizes and types of employers. Public sector employees and the self-employed will be able to opt in. The insurance will be funded by employees through small weekly paycheck deductions, starting at 70 cents a week and estimated to rise to a little over $1.

From our research we know that having guaranteed paid family leave is especially crucial for low-income working mothers who often are forced to return to their jobs when their infants are only a few weeks old because they cannot survive without a paycheck. Working men and women have been forced to rush back to jobs when their care is needed for an aging parent, child, or spouse whose life hangs in the balance. Addressing this critical health and workplace inequity was a driving force behind our work to establish this important workplace necessity.

I want to congratulate Nancy Rankin, CSS Vice President of Policy, Research and Advocacy, who led CSS’s efforts on paid family leave. No one has been more passionate in advocating for this issue. Nancy authored the CSS report, “A Necessity, Not A Benefit,” which documented how the lack of paid family leave unfairly impacts low-income working mothers. In addition, Nancy regularly testified before Albany lawmakers, authored op-eds, organized physicians and health professionals from across the state in support of proposed legislation, and oversaw the production of influential advocacy materials and video testimonials refuting arguments advanced by opponents. Nancy also serves as Chair of the Board of the New York Paid Leave Coalition.

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