Legislation would give NY workers strongest benefits nationwide
The Assembly passed a paid family leave bill Tuesday for the fifth time in as many years. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was joined by dozens of legislators, activists, and families in the Democrats’ conference room to announce their intention to pass it again.
Bill S.3004-a/A.3870-a, is being sponsored by Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, and Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., both Queens Democrats.
If passed, this bill would guarantee coverage to all employees, a minimum paid leave of 12 weeks, full job protection, and a minimum two-thirds wage replacement for the time a worker is on leave.
“If passed, this bill will bring us critical protection to workers across the state,” said Heastie.
The Assembly’s announcement comes just days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Vice President Joseph Biden unveiled the “Strong Families, Strong New York” campaign.
The legislation would ensure 12 weeks of job-protected, employee-funded leave to be used for the care of a new child or sick relative. It would also guarantee employees the right to return to their current job and bring legal discrimination actions to the extent that their rights are violated.
While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to many workers to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child, most people can’t afford to take unpaid time from work, according to the bill’s language. Paid family leave benefits would allow all workers to remain in the workforce and still receive some income while taking leave to care for their family.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. Currently, only New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island offer a similar policy, and none offer benefits for more than six weeks.
A coalition has come out in support of the bill, including AARP, Citizen Action of N.Y., the New York Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO, and the Working Families Party. “This is just as much a societal issue as a workplace issue,” said Mario Cilento, N.Y. AFL-CIO president.
The bill has been can be a concern to the business community, but supporters argue that the legislation is cost-effective, because it would be funded through employee contributions.
“We are very hopeful that paid family leave will get done this session,” said Donna Dolan, executive director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition. Currently the Senate version of the bill is in the Labor Committee.