New York Budget Deal Includes Higher Wages, Paid Time Off – Next City

New York Budget Deal Includes Higher Wages, Paid Time Off

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks to the media in Albany on March 30. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

NYC workers will be getting paid family leave — and potentially a raise — as part of the state’s new budget agreement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that New York will become the second state (after California) to raise its minimum wage to $15. For New York City businesses with at least 11 employees, the minimum wage will rise to $11 an hour by the end of 2016, then another $2 each year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2018. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees will have until 2020 to reach the $15 mark. In the rest of the state, including in NYC’s wealthier suburbs, the phase-in will be slower.

The state will conduct annual economic analyses beginning in 2019, and could temporarily suspend scheduled increases if they think it’s necessary.

The budget deal also includes a bill mandating paid family leave that New York magazine calls “startlingly robust,” when compared to the other four states with similar policies: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington.

The bill includes up to 12 weeks of paid time off to bond with a new child or care for a gravely ill family member. It also does away with many of the exemptions that are built into the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires that some employers offer job protection to some workers who need to take time off for familial reasons. Unlike FMLA, there are no exemptions for small businesses. Both men and women who have been employed by the company for at least six months are eligible, whether they work part-time or full-time.

The family leave policy will also be gradually phased in starting January 1, 2018, eventually reaching the 12 weeks and up to two-thirds of the state’s average weekly wage (about $850) by 2021.

At both the city and state level, progress for paid family leave has come in fits and starts, as Next City’s Oscar Perry Abello highlighted in his breakdown of paid family leave in January.

While the most common criticism of paid leave programs is that they hurt employers and small businesses, New York points out some ways that such programs have actually benefited employers in the states that have them.

… in California, where up to six weeks of paid leave has now been the mandate for more than a decade, studies have shown that around 93 percent of employers report positive or neutral effects on employee turnover, 91 percent positive or neutral effect on profitability or performance, and 98 percent positive or neutral effect on employee morale.

Other funding in the state’s $96.2 billion budget agreement funnels $20 billion toward homelessness and affordable housing, $28 billion for metropolitan transportation investments and $4 billion for middle-class income tax relief.

Kelsey E. Thomas is Next City’s associate editor.

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Tags: new york cityjobsincome inequalityminimum wage