Paid family leave available for workers in St. Lawrence County, rest of NY starting Jan. 1
Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 5:36 pm

Residents in St. Lawrence County and the rest of the state will be able to receive paid family leave starting Jan.1.

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, said the new law will provide needed financial stability and peace of mind for many families in New York State.

"This is a time of year when we are focused on the importance on family. Over the years, too many of us have had to deal over the years with the challenges of balancing our work and being there for family members when they need us most," she said.

Assemblywoman Jenne noted those challenges can be even more difficult in rural areas like the North Country, where family members often receive care several hours from home.

"We have many people in the North Country living paycheck to paycheck so they can't afford to take unpaid leave when family members need them most. This new law will allow workers to take care of their personal responsibilities with a program that will help mitigate financial stress," she said.

New York’s paid family leave program will allow eligible workers to take paid time off to care for a new baby or sick relative or spend time with an active-duty military service member about to be deployed.

While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act makes it possible to take time off, it only covers about 60 percent of the workforce and is unpaid, putting it out of reach for many workers.

New Yorkers will now be able to take eight weeks of job-protected leave at 50 percent of their average weekly wage up to 50 percent of the statewide average. It will increase to 10 weeks of leave at 55 percent in 2019, then to 60 percent by 2020. By 2021, this will rise to 12 weeks at 67 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage up to 67 percent of the statewide average.

“It’s time our families didn’t have to choose between making ends meet and being there for those we love most. For too long, family caregivers – usually women – have had to give up their paychecks when it came time to care for a newborn or sick family member," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

"This legislation is proof that we put families first in New York State and that message is only amplified when we have the opportunity to gather with our loved ones during the holiday season. New Yorkers now know they will have an opportunity to be there when their family members need them most. There could be no more important present shared this holiday season," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

Jenne’s assembly district is known as the river district and includes all the St. Lawrence County towns along the Seaway.