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New York becomes only the fourth state with a paid parental leave law

It may come as a surprise for most people to learn that the U.S. actually ranks as the only first-world country without any sort of mandatory paid family leave for parents. Indeed, the closet thing our nation has to a paid family leave mandate is the Family Medical and Leave Act, passed back in 1993.

The FMLA, however, has long been the subject of intense criticism by worker advocacy groups given that it's 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave are 1) unavailable to both those working at companies with less than 50 employees and part-time workers, and 2) of little benefit to working families trying to make ends meet.  

Things are perhaps not much better at the state level, as only three states -- New Jersey, California and Rhode Island -- have historically provided any sort of paid parental leave.

That all changed this past Monday, however, as Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law establishing a paid parental leave policy here in the Empire State.

Specifically, the law, included in the state's budget deal, calls for the paid parental leave policy to be implemented according to the following timetable:

  • The leave policy will be put into practice on a smaller scale starting in 2018 with workers receiving 50 percent of their average wages for up to eight weeks
  • The leave policy will be fully implemented in the ensuing years with workers eventually receiving 67 percent of their average wages for up to 12 weeks

Two important points to note concerning the new paid parental leave policy is that a cap on the amount paid to workers every week will eventually be determined, while the funds for the leave payments will come from an employee payroll deduction.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the dialogue around this historical move by state lawmakers unfolds in Albany and throughout the state. Stay tuned for updates ...

If you believe that your employer has violated your rights under New York's wage and hour laws in any capacity -- overtime, minimum wage, etc. -- please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible. 

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