The issue of Paid Family Leave just got some New York size momentum. Although this weather pattern makes one believe it is still winter, April showers have paid leave laws blossoming all over the place.
On April 4th, New York State passed what is being hailed as the most comprehensive and generous paid family leave law in the country. Just a day after, San Francisco made history by becoming the first city in the country to approve six weeks of FULLY paid leave for new parents, which covers mothers, fathers and same-sex couples. Several states are now looking to follow New York’s lead; Ohio is likely the next in line after introducing its 12-week paid leave bill in the same week. In addition to Ohio, legislation has either been introduced or is being actively pursued in 20 other states.
New York State’s paid family leave program that will take effect on January 1, 2018, will be the country’s most progressive to date and will provide essential financial security to the estimated 6.4 million workers in New York who lack access to paid family leave.
New York followed in the footsteps of three other states, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, but went much further. While California and New Jersey offer six weeks off per year with some pay, and Rhode Island offers four weeks, New York now offers up to 12 weeks. If New York, with its 19 million-plus population, will soon allow all workers in the state — women and men — to take up to three months off per year to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member while still getting a share of their salary, it is no surprise that other states are following its lead.
Research about paid leave shows definite benefits to the baby, mother and family, including a decline in infant and maternal mortality, an increase in breastfeeding rates and more involvement by fathers in their children’s lives and in child care activities.
While this is an important victory, there is still more work to be done to ensure the economic security of New York’s women and communities in 2016. We added our voice to the campaign for paid leave, along with supporters ranging from nonprofits to unions to small businesses, and are proud to be fighting for working families alongside tremendous advocates.
Please join in the fight for gender fairness.