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Hochul signs legislation expanding NYS paid family leave


Mon, Nov 1st 2021 04:30 pm

Legislation S.2928-A/A.06098-A expands on current law to enable workers to care for siblings with a serious health condition

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday signed a bill (S.2928-A/A.06098-A) that expands New York state's Paid Family Leave legislation to allow caring for siblings. Under the current law, employees cannot take leave to care for a sibling with a serious health condition.

"Taking care of your family is a basic human right; no one should have to choose between caring for a loved one and a paycheck," Hochul said. "Fighting to expand paid family leave is personal to me and so many others, and I am proud to work with advocates and legislators to make sure that New Yorkers can now take care of their siblings without fear of losing their jobs or income."

This bill builds upon the Paid Family Leave legislation that was enacted in 2016, which created one of the most comprehensive paid family leave programs in the nation. In effect since 2018, New York's Paid Family Leave program is employee-paid insurance that provides workers with job-protected, paid time off to bond with a newly born, adopted or fostered child; care for a family member with a serious health condition (which may include severe cases of COVID-19); or assist loved ones when a member of the family is deployed abroad on active military service. Paid Family Leave may also be available in some situations when an employee or their minor, dependent child is under an order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Eligible workers may take up to 12 weeks off at 67% of their pay (up to a cap) to care for family members in times of need.

Currently, Paid Family Leave family care covers caring for spouses, domestic partners, children and stepchildren, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren with a serious health condition. Through legislation S.2928-A/A.06098-A, the definition of "family members" expands to include siblings. This includes biological siblings, adopted siblings, stepsiblings and half-siblings. These family members can live outside of New York state, and even outside of the country.

The bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Assembly member Sandy Galef said, "The strong bond siblings share is undeniable. For many individuals, siblings may be the only family member available to assist and provide health care in their time of need and it has happened so often during the COVID pandemic.”

New York State Workers' Compensation Board Chair Clarissa M. Rodriguez, said, "New York state Paid Family Leave has helped thousands of New Yorkers care for their family members since taking effect in 2018. This bill further strengthens New York's nation-leading Paid Family Leave, affording even more hard-working New Yorkers access to job-protected, paid time off so they may provide critical support to a sibling with a serious health condition."

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "New York's Paid Family Leave has been a model across our nation when it comes to helping working families, and I commend Gov. Hochul for her leadership in expanding the definition of family to include siblings. This last year-and-a-half has been especially hard on working caregivers, and a loss of income can be devastating for New Yorkers who must care for a sick family member. This is a critical step toward easing that hardship."

AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said, "Paid family leave is compassionate and cost-effective, and AARP New York applauds Gov. Hochul for signing this new law expanding New York's already strong program to include siblings. With 2.5 million unpaid family caregivers across New York providing care valued at over $31 billion a year, we should do all we can to support family caregivers. No family member who cares for a loved one should be excluded from paid family leave. It helps employees, employers and taxpayers by fostering more productive workplaces and giving workers the economic peace of mind they need to provide invaluable care for their loved ones – which helps New Yorkers age with dignity and independence at home, rather than in far costlier and mostly taxpayer-funded nursing homes."

New York Civil Liberties Union Senior Legislative Attorney Lisa Zucker said, "Paid family leave is not a work perk: it is a workers' rights and gender equity imperative. Women continue to disproportionally bear the burden of family caregiving, and all families require support which recognizes that structures and responsibilities vary among families. As the United States remains the only developed country that does not provide federal paid family leave, today, our state took a bold step to ensure that no New Yorker should have to choose between their paycheck and taking care of their family."

Department of Financial Services Acting Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris said, "New York's Paid Family Leave program has allowed families to take a paid leave of absence to take care of their loved ones, preserving financial stability and freedom to those who need it most. The expansion of New York's nation-leading Paid Family Leave by including siblings provides additional flexibility for families as we all work to rebuild and recover from COVID-19.”

For complete details on New York state Paid Family Leave, visit PaidFamilyLeave.ny.gov.

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