New York Joining States Requiring Paid Family Leave

NEW YORK (AP)  On Jan. 1, New York will join California, New Jersey and Rhode Island in requiring employers to give workers paid leave to bond with a baby, care for a close relative with a serious illness or help loved ones during a family member’s military deployment.

The new benefits, which apply to 6.4 million private-sector workers, will phase in over four years.

In 2018, employees can take up to eight weeks of paid leave and receive 50 percent of their average wage, up to a cap weekly cap of $652. When the phase-in is complete in 2021, they’ll be able to take up to 12 weeks at two-thirds of their average weekly wage.

“This is going to be life-changing, especially for low-wage workers,” said Nancy Rankin, of the Community Service Society, a group that advocates for low-income New Yorkers. “Those are the workers who have little or no savings, are in debt, are barely getting by. It’s a real crisis when they have a new child or ill family member.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced the paid leave legislation in his 2016 State of the State speech. He said he regretted not spending more time with his dying father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and noted that many people don’t have that choice because they can’t afford to take time off from work.

He signed the paid leave policy into law in April 2016 along with a $15 minimum wage plan, also being phased in.

Workers — not their employers — will ultimately bear the burden of paying for the leave through a payroll deduction of up to $1.65 a week.

Full-time employees will be eligible after 26 consecutive weeks on the job. Part-time employees qualify after working 175 days in a 52-week period.