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Newest paid family leave bill to be released Monday

ALBANY — A compromise to establish paid family leave for New Yorkers would phase in the benefit paid for by employees as a way to ease the disruption for employers, according to the bill scheduled to be introduced Monday.

“There is no burden on the employer under my paid leave program,” said Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), the bill’s sponsor and head of the influential Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate. “Right now, employers have to give workers time off under the federal law, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t want that person to pay into an insurance fund,” Klein told Newsday on Sunday.

Klein said his bill would be introduced Monday for inclusion in negotiations for the state budget due by April 1. Klein’s bill would cost workers about 20 cents a week to create a new paid family leave fund. Workers could tap it for up to 12 weeks of partial pay for the birth of a child or serious illness of a family member. Currently, New York workers get 12 weeks of parental leave under federal law, but without pay.

Klein’s bill would provide compensation that would rise from two-thirds of a worker’s salary up to 35 percent of the average state wage beginning next Jan. 1. On April 1, 2020, the benefit would be capped at 80 percent of a worker’s salary, or up to half of the average weekly wage in the state, according to details of the bill released Sunday.

Klein said the statewide average weekly wage used in the program is about $1,266 and workers in the first year would get about $443 a week from the fund they would have paid into.

The provisions to make paid family leave more acceptable to business is an effort to appeal to the Republican-controlled Senate.

The state Business Council has said paid family leave for all employees for up to 12 weeks every year is too burdensome for employers, many of whom are still recovering from the recession.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also proposes a paid leave bill that would charge workers, not employers, but his bill would charge workers 60 cents to $1 a week. Most business groups and the Senate’s Republican majority have rejected the Assembly Democrats’ bill that would require employers to pay more into the state disability insurance fund.

Last week the Siena poll found paid family leave is supported by 80 percent of voters, including 69 percent of Republicans.

“It would be a smart political move for all sides to find common ground and get this done,” Steven Greenberg of the Siena poll said Sunday.


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