New York State has passed a bill that will add siblings as covered family members under the state paid family leave program! This amendment will ensure that covered workers will be able to take paid family leave to care for their seriously ill siblings, in addition to the already covered family members under the law, beginning in January 2023. (November 2021 update: This bill has been signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 78% of children in the country—nearly 60 million children—live with at least one sibling. Sibling ties are some of the closest and most enduring relationships in many people’s lives, and we are thrilled to see the state of New York honoring these vital relationships and enabling workers to care for more family members in times of need without suffering from lost income.
A Better Balance was a leading member of the coalition that fought tirelessly for and won New York’s groundbreaking paid family leave law in 2016, and this amendment continues to build on the program. This expansion affirms New York’s dedication to expanding legal definitions of family and represents further progress towards ensuring that all New Yorkers can take the time they need to care for those closest to them. Importantly, the original law also has a flexible definition of domestic partner that includes certain chosen family, including significant others who don’t have a legally registered domestic partnership. This exciting move to allow workers to care for siblings under the program will also create consistency among the state’s paid leave laws—as New York’s paid sick leave law already includes siblings as covered family members.
We have long championed inclusive family definitions that cover the full scope of caregiving needs and allow workers to take leave to be there for all of their loved ones, regardless of legal or biological relationship. We applaud the New York State Senate and Assembly for passing this important update to New York’s paid family leave law and look forward to the Governor’s signature! We are grateful to see added progress on the paid leave front in New York, and look forward to continuing our work to recognize all families and their diverse forms, in New York and across the country.