Paid Family Leave Takes Effect in New York State
Ryan Smith, right, poses with his wife Sarah and children Ashton, 2, and Eden, 6 months, outside their family home, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, in Cranston, Rhode Island. Both of the Smiths were able to take advantage of paid family leave with the birth of their daughter Eden. New York joins California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia in offering paid family leave. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
More than 200,000 babies are born annually in New York State. This year, new parents will get paid leave to spend time with their newborns thanks to a new law that took effect on January 1. But the Paid Family Leave Law is not just for parents of newborns. Parents of adopted and fostered children also qualify for time off, as well as anyone who needs to take care of a seriously ill loved one, or help out when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty. Citizenship and immigration status do not affect eligibility.
Here's how it works: employees across the state will get a small amount deducted from their weekly paycheck, $1.63 at most. Employers won't get saddled with any extra cost, and employees will get 0.67% of their average weekly wage for 12 weeks by the time the law is fully implemented in 2021.
Nancy Rankin is the Vice President for Policy, Research and Advocacy at the Community Service Society. She said low income New Yorkers stand to benefit the most.
"For low income New Yorkers, having paid family leave is going to be absolutely life-changing," said Rankin. "For people living paycheck to paycheck, you can't go for six weeks or eight weeks with no paycheck."
Rankin played a lead role in getting paid family leave passed. She said the next step is making sure people know their rights.
"We can pass these great laws, but unless people know about them, they are not going to take advantage of it."