The Empire State is offering paid parental leave to thousands of workers.
New York will offer 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave benefits to more than 10,000 state employees, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Feb. 14. The policy, which begins immediately and covers nonunionized employees, applies to bonding with a newborn, foster or adopted child.
"The dedicated New Yorkers who keep our state moving should not be forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for their child, and this policy will establish New York state as a model for helping working families," Hochul said in a statement.
Hochul first announced the initiative as part of her 2023 State of the State address on Jan. 10. Administration officials said they will work to expand the policy to cover more than 170,000 unionized state workers through the collective bargaining process, the Associated Press reported.
New York also has a family leave program in which eligible parents and people caring for family members in New York can receive partially paid leave, but this is the first fully paid parental leave policy under the state government.
New York's announcement also comes as President Joe Biden has recently urged the enactment of paid family and medical leave. Earlier this month, Biden called for extended support for time-off benefits during a press conference marking the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act. There, he announced he had signed a memorandum laying out a national program of paid family and medical leave for employees. Biden reiterated his support for paid family leave during his State of the Union address last week.
In general, paid parental leave is a highly desired benefit coveted by workers. A December survey from insurance firm Unum found that paid family leave was among the top three noninsurance benefits U.S. workers most want. Another survey from online insurance broker Breeze last November found that workers would rather their employer offer paid parental leave instead of an array of other benefits, including employer-paid fitness or mental health benefits, vision insurance, or student loan repayment assistance.
The U.S. is one of only a few wealthy countries in the world that does not guarantee paid parental leave at the national level.
Although paid parental leave is highly desired by workers, it's not extremely common. The most recent employee benefits data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), for example, found that 33 percent of employers offered their employees some paid parental leave in 2022. That number is down from the 39 percent that offered the time in 2020.
Paid leave for adoption or foster care is even less common: 28 percent of employers offered adoption leave in 2022, while just 22 percent offered leave for foster care.