Lost in the hubbub over New York’s complex plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 was a complimentary provision that requires restaurateurs and other employers to grant up to 12 weeks of paid leave for extraordinary family situations.
The family leave provision of the budget passed Friday provides more paid time than any state or local jurisdiction has previously provided. Starting in 2018, workers who need to care for a newborn or an ill member of the family would receive 50 percent of his or her average weekly raise or up to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly raise, depending on which is lower. In 2021, the percentage jumps to 67 percent.
Lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo say the financial burden would fall on employees rather than employers because the benefit will be funded with a tax on workers’ pay. “It costs businesses—both big and small—nothing,” the governor’s office said in a statement describing the provision.
But employers would still have to guarantee re-employment of the employee at the end of the paid-leave period. That complication would require restaurants and other businesses to recruit workers for short but undefined stints, a difficult that figured into the industry’s opposition to unpaid family leave.