6.4 Million Working New Yorkers Don't Have Paid Family Leave

Release Date: 
February 2, 2016

Nearly 9 out of 10 working New Yorkers do not receive paid leave from their employers.

The call for paid family leave in New York is steadily growing. Just this morning, Governor Cuomo amended his paid family leave proposal to increase the payment for some of the state's lowest paid workers, and at this very moment, New Yorkers are gathering in Albany to call for a family leave insurance system that covers working people statewide.

Lagging on Leave, a new Demos report by Demos Senior Policy Analysts Amy Traub and Robert Hiltonsmith, finds that 6.4 million New York workers, or nearly 9 out of 10 working people, do not receive paid family leave from their employers.

While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act has helped millions of Americans take unpaid leave and return to work, many working people do not qualify for leave under the Act or cannot afford to take time off work without pay.

“All New Yorkers should be able to be there when their families need them most, from nurturing a newborn to caring for an ailing parent or spouse,” said Traub.  “Our research finds that this isn’t a problem businesses are solving on their own: New York must act to modernize its Temporary Disability Insurance system so our hard-working citizens are no longer forced to choose between the paycheck they need and caring for their loved ones when they are most vulnerable.”

Other key findings of the report include the following:

  • Employers in New York and nationwide do not meet the need for paid family leave. Even in job sectors like finance and information, where companies like Facebook and Goldman Sachs have made headlines by expanding paid leave benefits, the majority of employees do not have paid family leave–64 and 74 percent, respectively.
  • Most countries and a growing number of U.S. states have successfully implemented public paid family leave programs, including New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. These policies have reduced absenteeism and improved retention among low-wage workers, and were adopted without significant negative effect on business profitability or performance.
  • Paid family leave has overwhelming public support. 80 percent of Americans, including 71 percent of Republicans, favor requiring all employers to offer paid leave. 81 percent of New York City residents, including 80 percent of Republicans, support the establishment of a paid family leave insurance system, even if it means a dollar a week would be deducted from their own paychecks to fund it.
  • Governor Cuomo has proposed a family leave insurance plan that includes critical features such as 12 weeks of job-protected leave, replacement of as much as two-thirds of wages for low-paid workers, and coverage of all employers. The recent upgrade of the governor’s plan to replace more wages will help to ensure that all New Yorkers can afford time with new babies and sick loved ones.

 

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