ALBANY, N.Y. – Advocates and caregivers are calling on the state to pass legislation that would allow New Yorkers to take paid time off from work to care for family members. A bill to extend the state’s temporary disability insurance program to include paid family leave has passed the Assembly, but didn’t clear the Senate.
Bill Ferris, New York state legislative representative for AARP, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to take a leadership role in getting a family-leave insurance bill through the Legislature in the coming year.
“This will undoubtedly help those people caring to their loved ones at home,” he said. “Not only will it help them, but it will help all of us as taxpayers to keep the elderly people in their homes and out of costly institutional care here in New York.”
Family-leave insurance would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks at partial pay each year to care for an aging parent, newborn child or sick family member.
Tracy Murphy of Syracuse needed to take time off after her mother had major surgery. She needed to help her with everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and preparing food, and to find someone to take over when she couldn’t be there.
“All of those things add to the stress of your everyday life,” she said, “and it’s just impossible, I think, at least in the initial stages, to try to caregive and also work full time.”
A 2011 study found that, on average, family caregivers lose more than $300,000 in wages, pensions and Social Security benefits by taking unpaid time off.
Advocates say paid family leave benefits employers, too, through increased productivity and having skilled workers who return to their jobs. According to Ferris, passing a family-leave insurance bill in New York would not impose a burden on taxpayers.
“What we’re saying is, use the existing structure that we have in government now and add to that,” he said, “so, like an employee pays for temporary disability insurance now, the employee would pay for the family leave.”
New Jersey, Rhode Island and California all have passed paid family-leave legislation, and it is included as an employee benefit at some major corporations.
Pictured Above: Paid family leave can help working adults care for their aging parents. (Photo Credit: Ahmet Demirel/Wikimedia Commons)
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