New York Leads The Way With Progressive Paid Family Leave Policy

by Alyssa Spizzirro

New York State legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo have reached a budget agreement that includes one of the most progressive paid family leave policies in America to date. While the effects of the policy won’t be in full throttle for a few years, the implications of its passing are huge. New York State is setting a precedent for the fair treatment of workers nationally. While other states like California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington have all passed family-leave programs, New York’s is the most expansive and dynamic.

If you thought there was already a national policy providing job protection and paid leave to parents, you’re not thinking about America. The closest thing is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which doesn’t mandate any monetary compensation and only offers some employers job protection, excluding companies with fewer than 50 employees. Funded by small employee payroll deductions (roughly a dollar a week with no employer contributions), New York’s paid family leave program is applicable to part-time and full-time employees who have been with a company for at least 6 months. The legislation includes a gradual increase of the minimum wage, which will reach $15 an hour in New York City by the end of 2018, as well as a mandated 12-week paid time off. Those eligible include new parents, including those adopting and fostering, and those caring for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, grandchild, or grandparent.

According to A Better Balance, workers will receive 50% of their average weekly wages up to a cap that is equal to 50% of the statewide average weekly wage. This amount will increase three years following 2018 to a cap of 67% of the statewide average weekly wage. In 2014, the state’s weekly average wage was $1,266.44, which would make the required leave pay roughly $848.

The minimum wage increase is crucial under these conditions, as it would raise the state-wide weekly income average and makes strides in providing economic justice for working people. Those who may benefit the most from these revolutionary policies? Single parents, who are more likely to live below the poverty line. There are resources available for those facing conditions where they may need leave prior to the implementation of this legislation, check them out here.

Image from A Better Balance

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