At a recent press conference at the New York State Capitol, we gathered with fellow advocates and legislators to push for strengthened and expanded paid family and medical leave in New York, so all New Yorkers can take the time they need to care for themselves and the ones they love, without sacrificing their economic security. Alongside Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, we called for the passage of A4053B/S2821B, which would bring New York’s paid leave benefits in step with the 21st century labor market, including by enacting comprehensive paid medical leave benefits through much-needed updates to the state’s decades-old Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program. The legislation would also expand the definition of family used in the state’s Paid Family Leave program to include chosen family, among other improvements that would make the program more equitable and supportive for all working New Yorkers and their loved ones, especially those who need these policies most. Together, paid family leave (PFL) and temporary disability insurance (TDI) constitute New York’s paid family and medical leave program.
New York made history when it passed its Paid Family Leave program in 2016—and we at A Better Balance are proud to have led the way. But our state has since fallen behind the national standard for what a strong, inclusive paid family and medical leave program looks like. Last week’s press conference came following an announcement from New York Governor Kathy Hochul committing to building out the state’s paid medical leave program. As we highlighted in our 2023 report, “The Time Is Now: Building the Paid Family and Medical Leave New Yorkers Need,” the cap on paid leave for one’s own medical needs has been stuck at a mere $170 per week since 1989. We applaud Governor Hochul’s commitment to bringing New York’s paid medical leave program up to par with the state’s paid family leave program.
“New York, which was a leader in enacting paid family leave, now lags behind other states in providing decent medical leave for workers,” highlighted A Better Balance Co-Founder and Co-President Sherry Leiwant in her remarks at the press conference. “Our bill will enable New Yorkers to attend to their own health needs without compromising their or their families’ financial stability.”
We are grateful to Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages for championing these urgently-needed updates to New York’s paid family and medical leave program, and to Governor Hochul for prioritizing this vital measure in her budget after years of advocacy and calling for change.