About the Campaign

Family Leave Insurance for New York Families:
Made New York Next

Almost 300 organizations from one end of the state to the other representing gender equity, labor, health professionals, child care, senior care, faith, and military families joined together to wage a successful campaign to help bring paid family leave to New York. These groups were committed to passing New York’s paid family leave law by educating our communities, mobilizing supporters, and raising up the voices of those most impacted.  Tens of thousands of parents, caregivers, business owners, advocates, healthcare professionals, and everyday New Yorkers also joined the campaign and made this victory possible.

The New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign has been led by a steering committee consisting of 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU, A Better Balance, Citizen Action of New York, Community Service Society, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Paid Leave Coalition, the NYS AFL-CIO, the Working Families Organization, and the NY Statewide Senior Action Council.

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About the Issue:

Families have changed dramatically over recent decades, but employment practices have not kept pace. Today, most parents of young children – mothers as well as fathers – work, and an increasing number of us are also responsible for elderly or disabled relatives. With no paid leave policies in place, new parents must return to work before they or their children are ready. And when a crisis arrives and working people must take time off to care for family members, they may forgo their paychecks, often at the very time they can least afford it.

The hardship is the greatest for low and moderate income families who have the least savings to draw on, and are the least likely to have access to employer provided paid leave. Caring for children, or for sick family members in need, should not be a luxury only some people can afford.

New York will be joining California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island as a state that has established a Family Leave Insurance program. New York’s program will be administered through our existing Temporary Disability Insurance system to provide paid family leave for a very modest cost.

The campaign won several critical elements of a strong paid family leave program including:

  • 12 weeks of leave that is phased in over four years to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one.
  • A benefit level that starts at 50% of a worker’s own weekly wage up to a maximum benefit of 50% of the statewide average weekly wage in year 1. Both of these phase up in steps each year reaching 67% of a worker’s own wage, and 67% of the statewide average weekly wage in year 4.
  • Job protection so New York’s workers have the peace of mind that when they return from leave for critical life moments, they know they have a job to come back to.
  • Coverage for all 6.4 million private sector workers in New York who currently lack access to paid family leave. The self-employed and public sector unions can opt their members in.

Family leave insurance will help families struggling to make ends meet while shouldering the added expenses of a newborn or ailing family member.

Campaign Milestones

 

April 2016
Paid Family Leave bill passes Assembly, Senate, and is signed by Governor Cuomo, bringing paid family leave to New York starting January 2018

February 2016
A3870A Passes the Assembly

January 2016
Governor Cuomo introduces Paid Family Leave in state budget proposal

March 2015
A3870 Passes the Assembly

February 2015
A3870/S3004 is introduced in both the Assembly & Senate.

March 2014
A1793B/S4742B is introduced in both the Assembly & Senate.
A1793B Passes the Assembly.

June 2012
A6289/S7547 is introduced in both the Assembly & Senate.

June 2009
A8742/S5791 is introduced in both the Assembly & Senate.

April 2007
The 2007 Launch of the Campaign for Time to Care.

 

Family Values WorkThe New York Family Leave Coalition is one of twenty four partners in the Family Values @ Work consortium, a national movement of grassroots state coalitions and policy experts fighting for paid time to care. For more information on FVAW’s advocacy for paid sick days and paid family leave insurance, please visit familyvaluesatwork.org.

The Problem

  • A growing number of working people are responsible for children, aging parents or other relatives.
  • Working parents have a tremendous need for family leave insurance. Two-thirds (67%) of women with children under 18, and a majority (53%) of women with children under 3, are employed.
  • Care for elderly relatives is an increasingly prevalent responsibility for working people. According to a recent national survey, 21% of the adult working population regularly provides care to another adult.
  • Few workers can afford to take unpaid time off from work.
  • Nationally, only 12% of workers have access to paid family leave. For the vast majority of workers, caring for a new child or sick relative means foregoing wages, something that few families can afford for long.
  • The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act granted workers in larger businesses the right to take up to 12 weeks for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a sick family member. Because the leave is unpaid, however, many of the working people who most need it simply cannot afford to take it (and up to 42% workers are not covered by FMLA protections at all). According to the US Department of Labor, 78% of people who said they needed family leave in 2000, and were eligible for it under FMLA, couldn’t afford to take it.
  • There is no program currently in place to provide income stability to employees who leave work temporarily due to family needs.
  • Existing safety-net programs, such as Unemployment Insurance, were designed in a period when it was expected that men would be the main breadwinners, and women would be available for unpaid care for family members. As a result, these programs generally fail to provide for interruptions to employment due to family responsibilities.
  • Paid time off can help employers too, by reducing costly turnover. For example, parents of newborns or newly adopted children who are able to take time off to care for their infants are more likely to return to the same employer.

The Solution

  • Paid Family Leave Insurance built into New York’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance program.
  • Provides family leave benefits for a maximum of 12 weeks of leave that is phased in over four years to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one.
  • A benefit level that starts at 50% of a worker’s own weekly wage up to a maximum benefit of 50% of the statewide average weekly wage in year 1. Both of these phase up in steps each year reaching 67% of a worker’s own wage, and 67% of the statewide average weekly wage in year 4.
  • Expands on New York’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance program to collect contributions and administer the program, which will minimize administrative costs.
  • Covers both “parental leave” for either parent to care for newborns or newly adopted children, and “family medical leave” for care of a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, grandchild or grandparent, and to address certain needs when a family member is called to active military duty.
  • Covers almost all private sector workers employed in NYS ( with the exception of certain categories excluded under NYS Temporary Disability Insurance law).  The law allows self-employed and public sector unions to opt into the paid family leave program.
  • As an insurance program with premiums estimated to be 70 cents/week to start and rising to $1.47 in 2021, paid for entirely by employee contributions, with zero out-of-pocket costs to employers. And because employers aren’t paying the employee on paid family leave’s wages, employers can use that money, if necessary, to pay for any temporary replacement costs or overtime.