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N.Y. paid-family-leave bill gains traction

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Crain News Service report

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 28, 2014) — A bill mandating employers in the Empire State grant up to 12 weeks of worker-funded paid family leave has more than doubled its number of sponsors in the New York state Senate as advocates press for its passage next month.

The bill, which mirrors one passed by the state Assembly in March, now has 18 sponsors in the state Senate, a spokeswoman for the New York Paid Family Insurance Campaign said. But all the sponsors are part of the main Senate Democratic conference, which has had little power to pass legislation since the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and Senate Republicans agreed to share control of the chamber two years ago. The bill would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial wages during time off to care for an infant or seriously ill family member.

A separate paid-family-leave bill supported by Bronx state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, the leader of the five-member IDC, was included in this year’s budget resolution. That was a significant and new step for advocates who have long sought the legislation.

The Assembly bill—identical to the one supported by the 18 regular Democrats—would be funded through employee payroll deductions of 45 cents a week in its first year. Mr. Klein’s version would be funded by much smaller employee payroll deductions combined with $125 million from the Legislature’s general fund in its first year. Mr. Klein’s plan would also only apply to businesses with more than 25 employees. It would offer six weeks of leave.

Paid family leave is more likely to pass if the state Senate reverts to full Democratic control. Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly would push for reunification of the Senate Democratic conference if Senate Republicans do not agree to public funding of election campaigns.

This report appeared on the website of Crain’s New York Business magazine, a New York City-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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