A bill recently passed by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo will provide historic reform for the state’s workers. The bill mandates paid family leave benefits for New York workers.

The United States is currently the only developed nation that does not guarantee paid parental leave to all workers. Organizations such as the New York Civil Liberties Union and  Human Rights Watch  have taken part in lobbying for these changes.

New York’s law provides workers with two  new protections. First, they will see their job protected when they take leave. This will allow workers to care for their family without having to risk their position or employment. Second, employers will have to pay workers taking family leave. This provision, however, will be implemented over time: by 2018, employers will only be required to pay 50 percent of a worker’s wage during leave, with the percentage increasing later on. Similarly, employers will only be required to give eight weeks of leave beginning in 2018, moving up to 12 weeks by 2021.

These new protections extend to birth mothers and fathers as well as those who wish to take leave to care for an adoptive or foster child. Leave can be taken at any time during the first 12 months after a child is born, or the first 12 months after a child is placed for foster care or adoption. A worker becomes eligible after they have been employed for at least six months.

In addition to childcare, the law also provides protections for those who need to take leave to care for a family member with a serious illness or in situations where someone enters active military duty and a family member needs time at home to help take care of family issues.

These changes, rather than hurting small businesses, will be  funded by deductions  from employee paychecks. The deductions are expected to total about $1 per worker each week.

To learn more about your rights to take  family leave  or medical leave, meet with a knowledgeable New York employment law attorney at Rubenstein & Rynecki. Call us at (718) 522-1020 or  contact us online  to get started.