Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle today announced passage of legislation to add bereavement to Paid Family Leave (PFL) (A.10639-A, Morelle). Allowing individuals to take sufficient time off to grieve after the death of a family member is critical to the individual's physical and emotional health.
"Families are the heartbeat of our communities, and when we passed Paid Family Leave, we ensured that New Yorkers could take time off to care for a sick loved one," Speaker Heastie said. "Today's bill expands on that, allowing people to take time to grieve after the death of a family member. The Assembly Majority will continue working to craft legislation that gives families the support they need, and create more family friendly and sustainable workplace policies."
"In 2016, I was proud to help pass and enact the nation's most comprehensive paid family leave program," said Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle. "However, since this time we recognized that people across New York were still placing their financial security at risk when taking time away from work to mourn the loss of a loved one. This legislation provides a common-sense fix to this inequity and ensures that New York's landmark paid family program remains the strongest in the land."
Today's bill would allow individuals to use PFL for bereavement in one of two manners. First, it would allow individuals to use PFL after the death of a family member. Second, it would allow individuals who have been using PFL to care for a family member to use any remaining PFL as bereavement time.
"This is an important addition to Paid Family Leave," Labor Committee Chair Michele R. Titus said. "New Yorkers deserve time to grieve after the loss of a family member, and this legislation will give them the ability to do that without having to face possible repercussions when they return to work."
According to the Society for Human Resource Management 2016 Paid Leave in the Workplace Survey, on average four days are allotted for the death of a spouse or child. However, the inability to take time to process grief not only has an impact on a person's health and their family, it also has a profound impact on their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Unresolved grief can cause severe psychological stress. Allowing individuals the necessary time to grieve leads to an improved quality of life, increases employee loyalty, betters outcomes and creates an overall healthier workforce.
Paid Family Leave was included in the State Fiscal Year 2016-17 enacted budget, and will gradually provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits for eligible workers to care for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to ease the burden placed on families when earners are called into active military service. Benefits began this year with 8 weeks of leave payable at 50 percent of an employee's average weekly wage, up to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, and by 2021, the program will provide up to 12 weeks of leave payable at 67 percent of the employees average weekly wage, up to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. The program is self-sustaining and is funded entirely through a small payroll deduction from each employee.