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New paid leave policy may bring relief to New York families

If you can't afford to take off work, you are in the same boat with many in New York. This is why you dread getting sick or when someone in your family falls ill. However, it may be that a situation is imminent, and you will have to take some time to get your family through it. It could be something tragic like the terminal illness of a loved one or joyous like the impending birth or adoption of a child.

Until recently, you would have to bite the bullet and take time off without pay. Your only other option was being away from your family when they need you most. Of course, if you are the one needing time off, you may be wondering how your family will survive financially.

New policies for New Yorkers

As if you needed another reason to love living in New York, the state has recently passed a comprehensive paid family leave policy. There has been national discussion and debate about the need for a paid leave policy, and you have undoubtedly heard co-workers bemoaning the difficult decisions they have to make when family situations arise. While the federal government stalls the implementation of a national plan, states have begun taking steps toward their own policies.

Beginning in the new year, New York will phase in the paid sick leave policy, which is different from the Family Medical Leave Act. For example, FMLA offers 12 weeks of unpaid time off if you work for a company that employees more than 50 people in a full-time capacity. The new program provides paid leave for all workers no matter how few employees are on a company's payroll. You can apply for paid leave for reasons such as:

  • Giving birth, fostering or adopting a child
  • Surgery for you or a family member, including domestic partners and in-laws
  • Caring for ill family members
  • Recovering from your own prolonged illness
  • Dealing with situations that arise when an active-duty military family member is deployed

Similar to other insurance plans and some government benefits programs, employees will fund paid family leave through payroll deductions.

Studies show that you are more likely to stay with a job longer if paid leave is part of the benefits package. Paid leave also may contribute to the job confidence and self-esteem of you and your co-workers. Workers with paid leave often perform better and produce more on the job. Best of all, you will no longer have to fear losing your job or suffering financial hardships if you need to take time off to care for yourself or your family.

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