During most individuals’ working lives there will come a time when one needs to take time from work to care for a close family member, whether that be after the arrival of a new child, dealing with an aging family member’s serious illness or adjusting to a loved one’s military deployment. Although it may appear to be common sense that workers shouldn’t have to choose between maintaining their job security and providing critical care for a family member during a stressful time, this is not the case for many workers in New York State.
Earlier this year, however, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law establishing a paid family leave program that will go into effect January 1, 2018. New York will now become the fourth state in the country to guarantee paid family leave to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill family member. This landmark legislation will provide essential financial security to the estimated 6.4 million workers in New York who lack access to paid family leave.
Under the new law, workers will be able to take paid leave to bond with a new child (including adopted and foster children) and care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, grandchild or grandparent. Most workers in New York will be eligible to take advantage of this law regardless of their employer’s size. The new law will provide up to eight weeks of leave a year in 2018, up to 10 weeks of leave a year in 2019 and 2020 and up to 12 weeks of leave a year in 2021. Employers will be required to preserve the job of employees on leave and also ensure that workers continue to be covered under the employer’s health insurance plan during the term of their leave. Biological mothers are additionally eligible for Temporary Disability Insurance for pregnancy-related disability and recovery from childbirth.
For biological mothers who need time off for pregnancy-related disability or to recover from childbirth now before the new state paid leave law goes into effect in 2018, benefits may be available through New York’s Temporary Disability Insurance Law and/or the New York State Human Rights Law. Some employers may already provide broader paid family leave benefits, and some workers may be eligible for job-protected unpaid family leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. For questions about your family leave rights, call Catholic Migration Services’ free Worker’s Rights legal hotline at 1-877-525-2267 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hablamos Español!