November 01, 2021
GOVERNOR HOCHUL SIGNS LEGISLATION EXPANDING NEW YORK STATE'S PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Legislation S.2928-A/A.06098-A Expands on Current Law to Enable Workers to Care for Siblings with a Serious Health Condition
Governor Kathy Hochul today 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," Governor 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 step-children, 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, step-siblings 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 January 1, 2023.
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said, "When New York State introduced Paid Family Leave back in 2016, it was one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind. Now, with the passing of this bill, our state's Paid Family Leave program is even stronger. Siblings — biological or adopted — are vital members of the family structure and are sometimes the only family some people have. To now have them included in our Paid Family Leave program gives families added assurance that if something happens to a sibling, that they will be able to take the time off needed to care for their family member. I am proud to have sponsored this bill in the State Senate and thank my colleagues for helping to pass it, and to Governor Hochul for realizing the importance of adding siblings to this already strong program."
Assemblymember 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. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this legislation which expands the definition of family to include siblings. New York is a leader again in making sure that those with serious health issues can be cared for by their brothers or sisters without them losing their jobs and their salaries. This is a caring and compassionate addition to NY's Paid Family Leave law."
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 Governor Hochul for her leadership in expanding the definition of family to include siblings. This last year and 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."
A Better Balance Co-Founder and Co-President Dina Bakst said, "A Better Balance applauds Governor Hochul for leading the way and signing legislation today to include siblings under New York's landmark Paid Family Leave Law, a law we proudly helped to pass in 2016. In the midst of a pandemic, labor shortage, and care crisis, this vital legislation will help to ensure the strongest possible protections for New Yorkers, especially women, who need time off to care for seriously ill loved ones or for their new child. Congress should follow New York's lead and enact a strong paid family leave law, as well as support workers through pregnancy and childbirth by passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act without delay. We can't Build Back Better without these essential measures."
AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said, "Paid family leave is compassionate and cost-effective, and AARP New York applauds Governor 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. I thank Governor Hochul and the Legislature for this new law."
For complete details on New York State Paid Family Leave, visit PaidFamilyLeave.ny.gov.