New York’s New Paid Family Leave Program is Strongest in the Nation

By Katherine Muniz
April 29, 2016

On Thursday, March 31st, it was announced that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New York legislative leaders had reached an agreement on the 2016-17 New York state budget just in time for the start of the fiscal year.

The budget made headlines for its historic move to raise New York City’s minimum wage to $15 by the end of 2021 and for its passage of the nation’s strongest family leave plan. Details of the program:

  • When fully phased in, the employee-funded program will provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.
  • According to the NYS Paid Family Leave Program webpage: “Paid leave will be funded entirely through a nominal payroll deduction on employees, so it costs businesses – both big and small – nothing.”
  • Employees are eligible for the program after having worked six months for their employer.
  • Benefits will be phased-in beginning in 2018 at 50% of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped at 50% of the statewide average weekly wage.
  • It will be fully implemented in 2021 at 67% average of an employee’s weekly wage, capped to 67% of the statewide average weekly wage.

Though New York isn’t the first state to mandate paid family leave time (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington also offer it), New York’s landmark policy is the most comprehensive and the most generous.

“By moving to a $15 statewide minimum wage and enacting the strongest paid family leave policy in the nation, New York is showing the way forward on economic justice,” said Governor Cuomo.

“These policies will not only lift up the current generation of low-wage workers and their families but ensure fairness for future generations and enable them to climb the ladder of opportunity. I am proud to sign these programs into law because they will ensure a stronger, fairer and brighter future for all New Yorkers.”

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