Paid Family Leave Passes in Civil Rights Victory
The New York State legislature today is taking action on historic legislation that would provide paid family leave benefits for New York workers. This paid family leave policy will ensure that New Yorkers will no longer have to choose between caring for an infant or an incapacitated parent and keeping their jobs. The benefit will have the greatest impact on the state's most vulnerable workers - women and low-income workers. The New York Civil Liberties Union is among the advocacy organizations that led the effort to pass the legislation. “Passage of paid family leave is a momentous civil rights victory for New York state,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “State leaders have done the right thing: This long-overdue benefit is critical to achieving economic equality for women and low-income New Yorkers, who too often have to choose between caring for a family member and keeping their jobs.” The bill voted on by the state senate today will provide 12 weeks of job protected leave to 6.4 million private sector workers in New York who currently lack access to paid family leave. The bill will be phased in over four years: In 2018, workers will be able to receive 50 percent of their wage, and eventually workers will receive up to approximately $850 a week. The bill also includes critical job protection so that New York workers can be confident they will have a job to return to after taking leave. The bill will cover all workers protected by the Temporary Disability Insurance program, and the benefit will be funded solely by employee payroll contributions, amounting to less than a dollar per week per employee. It will not, however, unfreeze temporary disability pay, frozen at 1989 levels, and excludes farmworkers from protection. Recent research and survey data demonstrate that providing workers paid leave has positive effects on long-term productivity, including improvements in employee motivation, recruitment and retention. “We applaud New York legislative leaders and the Governor for their work to make New York a leader in upholding values of fairness and equal opportunity,” said Katharine Bodde, policy counsel at the NYCLU. “This is a victory for all New Yorkers including workers, families and businesses.” The state assembly is expected to vote on the bill later today.