The New York State Assembly today passed the Paid Family Leave Act, legislation that allows New York workers to take paid leave to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill family member. The New York Civil Liberties Union is among the advocacy organizations that has been pressing for years for the state to support New York’s workers and families by passing the legislation.

“Paid family leave is essential to the health and well-being of New York’s workforce — especially those who live paycheck to paycheck and lack job security,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Today there are more women in the paid workforce than ever before and many households are headed by single parents. This benefit would ensure that no New Yorker has to choose between the health and economic stability of their family.”

Paid Family Leave Insurance allows for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for New York workers to care for new children or a seriously ill loved one by expanding the existing Temporary Disability Insurance program, an insurance program already familiar to businesses. The family leave expansion would be financed entirely by modest employee payroll contributions. For the cost of a cup of coffee per week by each worker, all working New Yorkers can receive a paid family leave benefit.

“Over the past several decades, New York’s workplaces and families have changed dramatically —women continue to disproportionately bear the burden of both child care and elder care while participating more than ever in the paid workforce,” said NYCLU Policy Counsel Katharine Bodde. “The lack of paid family leave is not only a matter of economic justice, it is an issue that implicates constitutional principles of gender equality. With Albany taking steps to pass legislation to advance women’s rights, paid family leave is a necessary component to creating a stronger, healthier, more equitable New York.”

A group of 57 women lawmakers and leaders – including Lieberman – recently signed an open letter to Governor Cuomo urging action on paid family leave. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

“The NYCLU applauds the Assembly’s action today,” Lieberman said. “It’s now time for the Senate to finally finish the job.”