New York near top for family-friendly policies
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Andrea Sears is reporting for Public News Service New York State has become a national leader for workplace policies that support families. A new state-by-state analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families gave New York an “A-," just slightly below first-place California. Vicki Shabo, vice president of the organization, said the state's Paid Family Leave Act that passed this year is one of the strongest in the country - offering eight weeks of leave initially, and twelve weeks when in full-effect. "And it will offer job protection,” Shabo said, "which means that people who work in smaller companies or have less time on the job won't risk losing their job when they need to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member." New York's law, which goes into effect in 2018, makes the Empire State the fourth in the country to have paid family leave. August 5 is the 23rd anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act - or FMLA - which guaranteed workers unpaid leave for the birth of a child or medical emergency. According to Shabo, some states, like New York, have enacted measures since then to improve upon federal statutes. "But a host of states, more than half, have done very little or nothing to improve the experiences and the supports that working families have at the time when a new child joins their family,” she said. There were 12 states given an “F" for failing to enact any workplace policies beyond the Family and Medical Leave Act and other federal laws to help new or expecting parents. Around the world, 183 countries guarantee paid maternity leave, and 79 have paid leave for fathers as well. Shabo said the evidence shows that enacting a national paid family leave program would benefit everyone. "It would boost our GDP. It would boost women's labor force participation,” Shabo said. “It would create greater gender equality and it would reduce economic inequality, as well as difference in opportunities for children and children's health going forward." She noted that 68 percent of the nation's children live in households in which all parents are employed.