Position on Paid Family Leave

The Board of Trustees of the New York Society for Ethical Culture supports the New York State Families in the Workplace Act passed in the Assembly in 2005 and pending in the Senate (S1501).

The bill seeks to amend the Disability Benefits Law to provide that employees who have been granted leave under the Federal Family Leave Act of 1993 would be entitled to receive twelve weeks of paid disability payments for such leave. It also provides that all firms with ten or more employees are entitled to 7 days per year paid leave in order to care for immediate family or household members in a medical situation; up to seven days bereavement per occurrence; and three days per year per child for school visits.

The bill uses the existing mechanisms of the disability benefit provisions for employee as well as employer contributions. The weekly benefit payments are 50 per cent of earnings with a maximum of $170 per week. The estimated cost per worker per year is $14.33.

The Public Issues Committee recommends that the New York Society for Ethical Culture join the Paid Family Leave Coalition, an eight state consortium that promotes state or federal paid leave benefits. PIC will contribute $50 from its budget and $120 from its members to the PFLC.

Discussion: "…This is a rare issue that can unite liberals and conservatives: those on the left interested in better working conditions and those on the right who want to promote family values." Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, 3/6/05, p. 23.

"Nearly two-thirds of American women and men under the age of 60 expect that they will have to care for a child or an older relative in the next decade. More than three of four employees (78%) have needed time off but could not afford it." — New York State Paid Family Leave Coalition.

Paid leave for parental school visits provides opportunities to achieve several benefits. It can reinforce a child's positive attitude toward learning; and it can promote good relationships among the parent, the teacher, the school, and the community.