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NYS Will Soon Guarantee Paid Family Leave and Increase the Minimum Wage

New York recently passed the 2016-17 State Budget, which includes a paid family leave policy and an increased minimum wage plan.  New York State is leading the country in providing paid leave. The United States, Suriname, and Papua New Guinea are the only three countries out of 185 that do not provide paid leave. These new laws allow employees to receive up to twelve weeks of paid leave to care for an infant, a family member with a serious health problem, or to aid a family member entering active military service. The plan will begin in 2018 with benefits at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. The program will be completely implemented in 2021 with benefits at 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. The paid family leave program operates by employee payroll deduction, which will be paid by the employee. Employees that have worked for their employer for at least six months will be able to participate in the program.

The establishment of a paid family leave policy allows all workers to care for their families without sacrificing their job. Low-income workers in particular will gain from this program since leave is often either unavailable or cost prohibitive. Women will benefit from the program as well since 47 percent of women make up the current workforce and often need time off to care for newborns. A paid family leave program will help women maintain existing salaries and ensure a long-term career trajectory.

Additionally, the $15 minimum wage plan included in the State Budget will also significantly impact workers in New York. The plan allows for an increase in the current minimum wage based on an indexed schedule determined by the Director of the Division of Budget and the Department of Labor. Downstate, the $15 minimum wage will be reached much sooner, but even in the Capital District, the minimum wage will be $12.50 by 2020.

A minimum wage increase would affect roughly 2.3 million people in New York. Both the $15 minimum wage plan and the paid family leave policy make New York a national leader in protecting its workers. The impacts on businesses will be mitigated by the incremental implementation of both plans, allowing a compromise between the needs of workers and employers.

Please contact us for more information and to make sure that your business is in compliance with the new laws.  Penalties for non-compliance can be significant.

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