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New York State Gets Paid Family Leave, $15 Minimum Wage

Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that will bring the minimum wage in New York State up to $15 an hour over the course of the next few years, and also provide the most comprehensive paid family leave in the country. The family leave policy, which will phase in starting in 2018, will eventually provide for 12 weeks of paid family leave, capped at 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.

Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that will bring the minimum wage in New York State up to $15 an hour over the course of the next few years, and also provide the most comprehensive paid family leave in the country. The family leave policy, which will phase in starting in 2018, will eventually provide for 12 weeks of paid family leave, capped at 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.

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(Photo Credit: Gaetan Boutet/Unsplash)

“By moving to a $15 statewide minimum wage and enacting the strongest paid family leave policy in the nation, New York is showing the way forward on economic justice,” said Governor Cuomo. “These policies will not only lift up the current generation of low-wage workers and their families, but ensure fairness for future generations and enable them to climb the ladder of opportunity. I am proud to sign these programs into law, because they will ensure a stronger, fairer and brighter future for all New Yorkers.”

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What the Paid Family Leave Policy Includes:

  • New York’s new family leave policy will cover all workers who need time off to care for a new baby or a family member with a serious medical condition, or to deal with pressures associated with a family member called to military service. Even employees who are not covered under FMLA – for example, those whose employers have fewer than 50 employees – will be covered by this program, provided that they’ve worked for their companies for more than six months prior to using leave.
  • The program begins phasing in during 2018. Initially, the benefit will provide 50 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.
  • The program will be fully implemented by 2021, at which point it will cover 67 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at 67 percent of the statewide weekly wage.
  • The benefit will be funded through a payroll deduction on employees.

Getting to a $15/Hour Minimum

Not all residents of New York State will see their minimum wage climb to $15 at the same time. Although the new minimum will eventually be in effect for every worker in the state, employees in different areas and who work for small or large businesses will see the increase on different timeframes:

  • Residents of New York City who work for employers with at least 11 employees will see an $11 minimum wage by the end of 2016. The wage will then increase by $2 every year until it reaches $15 on December 31, 2018.
  • New Yorkers whose employers have 10 employees or fewer will receive a minimum wage of $10.50 by the end of 2016, and an additional $1.50 every year after, until the minimum wage reaches $15 on December 31, 2019.
  • Workers in the suburbs of New York, e.g. Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau counties, will earn a $10 minimum wage by the end of the year, plus $1 every year after, until the minimum reaches $15 on December 31, 2021.
  • Everywhere else in the state, the minimum wage will be $9.70 at the end of 2016, with an additional $.70 every year afterward, until it reaches $12.50 in 2020 – “after which will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor,” according to the Governor’s Press Office.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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