Deductions begin into NY Paid Family Leave program

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A percentage of some New Yorkers’ paychecks started going toward the Paid Family Leave program earlier this month.

Most employees of private owned businesses have begun paying into New York’s Paid Family Leave program. Local parents think the opportunity to spend more time with their newborn children is a great idea.

Kristen Joyce, of Loudonville, said she would have loved to spend more time with her two young boys when they were born.

“I was limited to just six weeks paid time off when I had my two children, so definitely, eight weeks paid time off would have been far better,” she said.

Joyce said she took extra time off with both her sons, but it was unpaid.

“It wasn’t easy financially to get by on one paycheck, and then pay for daycare as well,” she said.

Kurt Hassenpflug, of Schenectady, said he was only able to take two weeks off when his daughter was born.

“It’s tough going back to work,” he said. “You’re not sleeping. Nobody is sleeping at that point with a newborn.”

Under the new Paid Family Leave program, new moms and dads will be able to take eight weeks off in 2018. The program slowly increases to giving 12 weeks off by 2021.

“Eventually, we would love to have another child, and that I could have that time, it’s amazing,” Hassenpflug said.

The program extends further than new parents. It will also cover anyone adopting or fostering a child as well as anyone taking care of a sick relative or a when a loved one gets deployed overseas.

“The whole point of progressive policies like this is to help working families, and we’re definitely in that boat,” Hassenpflug said.

Employees become eligible after 26 weeks if they work more than 20 hours a week and after 175 days if they work less than 20 hours a week.

Joyce and Hassenpflug both think the program is a great idea.

“You never know when you may need it,” Joyce said.

“The reality is family always comes first,” Hassenpflug said.

The program will be fully funded by employee contributions. The maximum deduction is $1.64 a week.

The ability to use the program begins on January 1, 2018.

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