Kathy Hochul offers paid family leave benefit to executive branch workers
ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday started offering fully paid parental leave for up to 12 weeks to some state workers to care for their newborn, foster or adopted children.
The measure covers more than 10,000 executive branch workers not represented by unions in the state workforce of about 170,000 people.
Workers “should not be forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for their child, and this policy will establish New York State as a model for helping working families,” Hochul said
Hochul’s expansion of the program would apply to employees who work full time or at least halftime.
Three states — Georgia, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — provide paid family leave for state employees for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
There was no immediate comment from Senate and Assembly leaders or from business groups.
The federal Family Medical Leave Act guarantees up to 12 weeks of leave, but without pay.
Currently, all employees in the state’s public and private sectors are eligible for the state’s Paid Family Leave benefit.
Employees pay for the benefit through a deduction in their paychecks.
This year the deduction is 0.455% of an employee's gross wages each pay period. The maximum annual contribution is $399.43.
The program provides up to 12 weeks off from work at 67% of the employee’s average weekly wages over roughly the previous eight weeks.
The benefit is capped at 67% of the statewide average weekly wage, which the state set this year at $1,688. That makes the cap $1,130.
Past governors have often introduced new benefits to state workers that is then used before pursuing legislation that could extend the benefit to the general public.
State lawmakers are several bills to expand the family leave benefit; study its impact with an eye toward increasing access and awareness of the program; protect workers against discrimination for using family leave; and extend the benefit in the cases of fetal death or when a newborn isn’t medically viable.