Defending Paid Family Leave

To The Readers’ Forum:

In your recent article “Paid Family Leave ‘Not Business Friendly'” (Feb. 23), some business groups and local elected officials not only mischaracterize the Governor’s proposal, but also blatantly mislead the public.

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. Which is precisely why there are no appropriations – the plan is entirely paid for by employees.

Contrary to these false assertions, this program would not place an undue burden on our state’s workforce. Paid family leave will not shutter small businesses or cost jobs. The claim that New York State will lose jobs is not only unsupported, but untrue. Studies show access to paid family leave actually improves worker retention, reduces turnover and helps employees return to the workforce after taking leave when life changes or the unexpected occurs.

In fact, in California, five years after the policy was implemented 92 percent of businesses said it had a “positive” or “no noticeable” effect. And many top companies have already enacted their own plans – Amazon offers up to 20 weeks of paid leave, and Apple and Google both offer 18 weeks of paid leave.

While opponents continue to spread mistruths to advance their own political agenda, Governor Cuomo is taking action to ensure New Yorkers – many of whom work full time on less than $15 per hour – have the support they need to make ends meet. Under the Governor’s plan, workers would be eligible to collect up to 67 percent of their average weekly wage – capped at 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage or approximately $1,000 per week once the plan is fully phased-in over four years. The four year phase-in period is designed to allow businesses and employees the chance to plan ahead.

Detractors of paid leave could not be more out of touch with New Yorkers. Across the state the numbers add up: Paid family leave is backed by more than 80 percent of the population. It’s clear that the far and wide-reaching benefits of the plan are what New York needs.

While others delay, Governor Cuomo is fighting to bring fairness and opportunity to New York’s families. State legislators should stand up and do the same. Let’s pass paid family leave for all New Yorkers.

Alphonso David

Counsel to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo