By Robert Stitt
The United States may not offer the kind of healthcare coverage and maternity packages that other countries around the world offer, but New York is coming close. New York magazine noted that for maternity leave, “The UK guarantees 40 weeks. Canada offers 17 weeks. Ireland provides 26 weeks. Mexico offers 12 weeks. Japan guarantees 14 weeks. Even Bangladesh, a country criticized for poor worker treatment, offers 16 weeks’ leave.”
According to Madame Noire, New York lawmakers just passed a paid family leave policy that requires employers in the state to “offer men and women, who have expanded their families by birth, adoption, or fostering, up to twelve weeks of paid family leave.”
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support a federal paid family leave policy. Republicans are concerned about the effect the policy will have on the businesses forced to implement it since the United States does not have a socialist base like the other countries who offer such benefits. It looks like New York is going to be the petri dish to find out if they are right.
The benefits in New York won’t start until 2018, but when they do start, both full and part-time employees will qualify for up to 50 percent of their salaries for eight weeks as long as they have been with the company for at least six months. The amount earned does have a cap of 50 percent of the average weekly wage in the state so nobody will be staying home pulling in thousands of dollars per week. The plan will expand to ten weeks in 2020 with workers earning 67 percent of their wages, though still capped. Finally, in 2021, a full 12 weeks of leave can be taken at the capped 67 percent.
Lawmakers say that the leave will not “cost” the employers anything since the program will be funded through employee payroll deductions of about $1 per week. They are hoping that this will discourage gender-based hiring. Businesses worry what’s not included in the equation is the cost of replacing and training the personnel who are on these extended leaves and the effect that will have on productivity. It also does not stipulate what constitutes a “family.”