August 13, 2019
New Report Shows More Than 8 Million Workers Covered and Over 128,000 New Yorkers Used Paid Family Leave in the First Year
New York Outperformed Other States' First Year of Paid Family Leave in Overall Participation Rate; Percentage of Men Using Paid Family Leave; and Percentage of Workers Who Took Leave to Care for a Family Member
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York's landmark Paid Family Leave provided more than 8 million workers across the State access to job-protected, paid time off and over 128,000 people used the benefit statewide in 2018. Of the 8 million workers covered, over 2 million had no previous coverage or protection under the federal Family & Medical Leave Act. Compared to other states' first year of paid family leave, New York had the highest overall participation rate, highest percentage of men who used Paid Family Leave, and the highest percentage of workers who took Paid Family Leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. In New York, employees can use Paid Family Leave to bond with their new child, help relieve family pressures when a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent is called to active military service abroad, or care for a family member with a serious physical or mental health condition.
"New York enacted the nation's strongest paid family leave law so that no one has to choose between losing a job and missing the birth of a child or caring for a sick family member," Governor Cuomo said. "In the first year we are already seeing incredible results - tens of thousands of employees utilized this important benefit and millions more have access to job-protected, paid time off. This initial success demonstrates once again our commitment to not only enacting progressive policies, but also to achieving real long-term results."
"As a mother, I know how difficult it is trying to balance responsibilities at work and at home," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "No family should have to make the choice between earning a paycheck and caring for a child or ailing parent. That is why in New York, we have the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave program in the nation that serves as a model for other states to follow. The expansive program is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure equal access and opportunity for all hard-working men and women."
See Paid Family Leave 2018 Year in Review for a comprehensive report on the first year of New York Paid Family Leave.
A majority of the workers who took Paid Family Leave in the first year made less than $60,000 a year and the group filing the most claims made less than $40,000 a year.
The benefits available are even more robust this year. Starting January 1, 2019, most working New Yorkers became eligible to take up to 10 weeks of job-protected, paid time off at 55 percent of their average weekly wage. This is up from the 2018 benefits of eight weeks at 50 percent of pay.
Additionally, Governor Cuomo signed legislation on February 3, 2019, to expand the Paid Family Leave Law's definition of "serious health condition" to explicitly include preparation for and recovery from surgery related to organ or tissue donation, ensuring those who donate can be cared for by their eligible family members under New York Paid Family Leave.
Paid Family Leave benefits will continue rising until 2021, at which time employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave at 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped at 67 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage.
Nancy Rankin, Vice President of the Community Service Society, a leading anti-poverty organization and champion of paid family leave, said, "Today, with the release of statistics on the first year of Paid Family Leave implementation, we're seeing the enormous positive impact it's having in giving working New Yorkers the time and financial security they need to care for their families. New York was the first state to provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave, and that's key; it enables low-income workers to actually take advantage of this benefit because they know they have a job to return to. More than half the claims were made by New Yorkers earning less than $60,000 a year, and the single biggest share of claims—more than 30 percent—were from people making less than $40,000."
AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said, "Family caregivers in the workforce are grateful that they no longer have to choose between their job and caring for a family member. New York's strong Paid Family Leave Law is providing critical support for caregivers, who struggle to balance family and work responsibilities. This law championed by Governor Cuomo is helping caregivers to help their loved ones age at home - as nine of 10 New Yorkers want - rather than in far costlier and mostly taxpayer-funded institutional care settings. The support Paid Family Leave provides is critical to New York's nearly 2.6 million family caregivers, who deliver care valued at over $31 billion annually and play such a key role in our health care system."
Kristen L. Rouse, US Army Veteran, Founding Director of NYC Veterans Alliance, said, "Our Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard families must feel visible and supported as their loved ones are deployed in service to our nation, and as they care for those who have returned with wounds needing care and attention. Each and every military and veteran family benefiting from Paid Family Leave should know how important they are to our state and nation. This first year marks a solid start, and we hope to see more military and veteran family members utilizing Paid Family Leave as they come to know about and trust that they well-deserve the support provided by this important benefit."
Sherry Leiwant and Dina Bakst, A Better Balance Co-Founders & Co-Presidents, said, "New York's Paid Family Leave Law has been groundbreaking in the fight to ensure no workers must make the impossible choice between caring for their loved ones and their paycheck. From the callers who contact us through our hotline we know what a difference Paid Family Leave has made for New Yorkers and we're happy to see the numbers bear out how important this law has been. The program's success proves that New York continues to be a trailblazer in passing and successfully enacting progressive workplace policies and we are hopeful that this news from New York will encourage other states and the Federal government to enact paid family and medical leave for all workers."
Donna Dolan, Former Executive Director, New York Paid Leave Coalition, said, "We're excited to see the positive first-year results of New York's groundbreaking Paid Family Leave Law and the impact it has had on new parents and caregivers around the state, enabling them to have great financial stability and job security during these critical moments in life. We're thankful for the efforts of Governor Cuomo in leading a robust implementation effort, as well as the work of dozens of state agencies and the network of advocates and organizations around the state that have connected communities with the information they need to use this powerful new benefit."
Most employees who work for private employers are covered for Paid Family Leave; public employers may opt to offer it as well. Both full-time and part-time employees can become eligible to take Paid Family Leave. Employees who regularly work more than 20 hours per week become eligible after having worked 26 consecutive weeks for the same employer. Employees who regularly work less than 20 hours per week become eligible after having worked 175 days for the same employer, which do not need to be consecutive. Neither citizenship nor immigration status is a factor in employee eligibility.
Complete details on New York Paid Family Leave, along with numerous resources for employers and workers, are available on the Paid Family Leave website, PaidFamilyLeave.ny.gov. The public is also encouraged to call the Paid Family Leave Helpline at (844) 337-6303 with any questions.