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Paid family leave bills with strong sponsors pushed for NY

ALBANY -- Two powerful Democratic leaders are pushing bills that would provide paid family leave for workers struck by serious illness, to take care of sick relatives, or for the birth or adoption of a child.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) released his majority conference’s package of bills on Wednesday. It includes a measure that would require employers to purchase paid family leave insurance. The cost of the premium would be offset to a degree by an initial weekly employee contribution of up to 45 cents from paychecks.

Silver said fiscal details will be released next week in the Assembly’s state budget proposal.

Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), who leads the Independent Democratic Conference that shares majority control of the Senate, unveiled his family leave bill in February.

Klein’s bill would provide six weeks of paid leave when a child is born or close relative is stricken with a serious illness. The proposal would provide a worker with half of his or her weekly wage by 2018 under a phased-in plan. Klein’s bill wouldn’t be a cost to employers.

The Senate’s traditional Democratic conference is also proposing a family leave bill to help workers keep their jobs while absent for the birth or adoption of a child.

The federal Family Medical Leave Act currently provides for 12 weeks of unpaid care for a sick relative. In New York, a weekly payment of $170 per week is provided for workers to care for severely ill, close relatives.

There was no immediate comment from the Senate Republicans who share majority control of the chamber. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also had no immediate comment.

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