Sorry, Albany — Paid Family Leave Will Still Cost Extra

A letter in The Sunday Post-Journal attempted to bring some clarity to the issue of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s paid family leave legislation.

“Let’s be clear: Governor Cuomo’s plan will not result in businesses closing because the program is fully funded through nominal employee contributions and hence costs businesses nothing,” Alphonso David, counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, wrote. “Which is precisely why there are no appropriations – the plan is entirely paid for by employees.”

Not billing companies to pay for paid family leave doesn’t mean paid family leave won’t cost businesses additional money. Kudos to Post-Journal readers for catching this fallacy almost immediately after the letter was posted to post-journal.com. One commenter noted businesses will have to either pay overtime for 12 weeks to existing employees or hire a substitute who isn’t likely to have the same efficiency or skill as the employee they are temporarily replacing. The business will also continue to pay health care for the employee on leave and the health insurance and costs of replacement workers. Those costs could add up to thousands of dollars during the course of a worker’s 12-week family leave, and that’s not counting the lost productivity of temp workers or shifting duties to existing employees.

So, Mr. David, let us be clear: not only will paid family leave cost employees who will never use paid family leave, but it will have a cost to businesses. Cuomo’s insistence that paid family leave comes with no cost to business – particularly when coupled with a $15 an hour minimum wage – makes no sense.