ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Supporters are making a final push to pass paid family leave legislation in New York state this year as state lawmakers enter their final weeks of work.
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins joined advocates of the measure Monday to call on her colleagues to pass the bill before the Senate and Assembly adjourn later this month.
The proposal would extend up to 12 weeks of paid time off for employees caring for a new child or sick loved one. It would be funded through a paycheck deduction that would start at 45 cents per week. The program would be administered through the state’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance system.
“We’ve got two weeks left, and there are still many unresolved issues that are important, and this is one of them,” said Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
The state Assembly passed the legislation in March but no vote in the Senate has been announced. The Legislature is expected to adjourn for the year on June 19.
Some form of paid family leave is the norm in most industrialized nations, but only three U.S. states — California, New Jersey and Rhode Island — have created similar programs.
If approved in New York, the program would be phased in over four years. Benefits would be calculated at two-thirds of the employee’s average wage, capped at 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. That would amount to a maximum weekly benefit of $603, based on 2012 statistics.
Critics have said they worry the program could create difficulties for small businesses who have to deal with employees leaving for several weeks at a time.
Martha Baker, one of the advocates working on the campaign to pass the bill, said paid family leave would allow people to care for loved ones during a medical crisis without worrying about paying their bills.