Paid family leave to support a seriously ill family member

New York passed possibly one of the most comprehensive and useful family leave policies this week, and what makes it interesting is how far it goes beyond just maternity and paternity leave to allow you to take 12 weeks leave to support a dying or seriously ill loved one.     Is it time we talked about that as a universal requirement in our scheme too?

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The program requires employers in the state to offer both men and women 12 weeks of paid time off for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.  It also covers time off to care for a seriously ill family member.  It was passed in a trade off on their budget, on Thursday night.  No other state in America, nor Australia, has taken paid leave this far as to offer it for 12 weeks, and for the care of a dying family member.

The inclusion of support for someone losing a loved one is a fascinating remit for the policy and comes after the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo wen through a spate of family deaths including his father dying and his partner being diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Life is such a precious gift and I have kicked myself every day that I didn’t spend more time with my father at that end period,” Cuomo said at his state address on the policy.

The state will fund the paid leave in a similar way to that funded by the Australian Government.  The program, which will begin in 2021 will cost employers nothing, and be drawn from nominal weekly paycheck deductions that the state will make to all people of approximately $1.  Workers can then take up to 67% of their weekly salary (capped at 67% of the statewide weekly wage) for the full 12 weeks.

In Australia, the parental leave pay scheme provides eligible parents with up to 18 weeks’ of Parental Leave Pay at the National Minimum Wage. The amount is currently $657 per week before tax (correct as of March 2016).  What it does not do is allow for the scheme to be accessed by those losing a loved one or helping a family member through a serious illness.

Do you think we should push for this in Australia and in other states, where you are?

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