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New York senator proposes paid medical leave for workers

Although the system is far from perfect, eligible New York employees are protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 when they need to take time off for medical conditions or emergencies. Unfortunately, unlike 178 countries around the world that give employees at least some paid leave, the United States does not. This leaves many workers having to choose between caring for a sick child, for example, and paying the bills. What's worse, sometimes employers unlawfully deny the requests of employees for unpaid time off under FMLA.

Right now, FMLA gives employees a maximum of 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave for events like the birth of a child, treatment of serious health issues and caring for a spouse, parent or child. Of course, there are requirements that employees must meet, such as being employed by a company that has at least 50 employees and working there for at least one year.

While this is a good start, a New York senator is hoping for more, calling the current policies outdated. Recently she spoke at a New York restaurant about a new bill called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. It would provide workers with temporary paid leave when they need to take care of a family member. The federal program would be funded by putting a 0.2 percent tax on employee and employer payrolls. That money would be put in a trust fund. If passed, workers could get up to 66 percent of their wages for a maximum of 12 weeks, capped at $5,000 each year. The senator emphasizes that this program would mean workers wouldn't have to choose between getting a paycheck and taking care of their loved one.

Source: WBNG.com, "Gillibrand: It's time to make paid leave available for all workers," Matt Porter, Feb. 24, 2014

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