At a time when a one-income family is a luxury few can afford, changes in family circumstances – whether it’s the birth of a new child or the serious illness of an older relative – put greater stress on the economic security of families than ever before.
Today, sixty-six percent of mothers of young children work outside the home and twenty percent of adults care for an elderly relative. In 1993 the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted to provide 12 weeks unpaid, job protected leave for working families to care for their newborn or adopted child or sick family members. For many working people, however, taking unpaid time off is virtually impossible, no matter how serious the situation.
Family Leave Insurance provides a solution that allows working families to care for themselves without risking their economic security. It would expand New York’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program (which provides some wage replacement during a worker’s own non-work related temporary disability) to cover a worker who needs time off to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or a seriously ill family member. Workers would receive up to 12 weeks of benefits, funded through a modest increase in premiums paid within the existing TDI program.
Every day New Yorkers are forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for their own health and/or a sick family member. Millions of New Yorkers do not have a single paid day off for illness a year. This lack of paid sick time comes with a cost — not just to those workers, but also to their families, to businesses, to public health, to children and to seniors.